DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 November) – Photographers gathered at the public beach in Punta Dumalag Sunday afternoon for “Golden Red Skies: Photowalk para kay Gene Boyd” sunset shoot to commemorate the eighth death anniversary of photojournalist Gene Boyd Rodriguez Lumawag.
Gene Boyd, photo editor of MindaNews, was gunned down in Jolo, Sulu on November 12, 2004, after taking photographs of the sunset at the pier. He was to celebrate his 27th birthday on December 14.
“Photographers of Davao gather to remember the life of a son, a friend and a fellow photographer,” the Camera Club of Davao, organizer of the photowalk said.
The skies, however, were overcast so those who gathered for the photowalk as early as 2:30 p.m. opted to just go to the shore, light candles and send off the floral arrangement on a makeshift bamboo raft, bedecked with vigil candles.
Gene Boyd’s father, Rene, thanked at least 60 photographers who came for the photowalk. “A number of you didn’t even know Gene Boyd but you came,” Rene said. He said his son helped work for a peaceful Mindanao.
CCD’s Norman Jadulang urged the photographers to submit a photo each for an exhibit in time for Gene Boyd’s birthday on December 14.
The military and police in Sulu claimed Gene Boyd was killed by members of the “Urban Terrorist Group” of the Abu Sayyaf. Five days after the killing, the police filed a complaint of murder against the Sailani brothers, Iting and Omar. The next month, the prosecutor’s office charged the brothers in court.
Task Force Newsman, the body tasked to look into the killing of journalists, immediately stamped Gene Boyd’s case as “solved” because “it is now in the courts.”
In early 2005, Reynaldo Wycoco, then director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), promised the Lumawag family and MindaNews that his office would conduct a “parallel investigation,” a promise that he renewed when followed up but which went unfulfilled. Wycoco suffered a massive stroke and died in late December 2005.
Sometime in October 2005, MindaNews and the Lumawag family were told by a reliable source in Sulu that a military intelligence agent, acting on poor intelligence work, killed GeneBoyd. A reinvestigation was sought.
On November 9, 2005, then National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales promised Gene Boyd’s father, photojournalist Rene Lumawag, in front of other journalists in Davao City, that he would order a fresh probe into Gene Boyd’s case.
On December 10, 2005, Rene and MindaNews sent Gonzales a follow up letter. No action was taken by the NSC.
On September 4, 2006, MindaNews reminded Gonzales about the reinvestigation, Gonzales said he had given two orders already but neither the Lumawags nor MindaNews received copies of the orders.
On November 29, 2006, MindaNews reminded Gonzales about his promise a year earlier. Again, he promised he would look into it.
On January 12, 2007, MindaNews wrote Gonzales another reminder.
On the same day, MindaNews also wrote ARMM police chief Joel Goltiao for a follow-up on Gene Boyd’s case.
On February 23, 2007, NSC deputy director-general Milo Ibrado, Jr.,, writing for Gonzales, refered MindaNews’ request to Gen.Cesar Garcia, Jr., Director General of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).
The NICA report said Gene Boyd was killed by the Sailani brothers.
Goltiao in a letter on March 23, 2007 said “the investigators believe that he (Gene Boyd) was suspected as a military intelligence agent and the identified suspects, Iting Sailani and Omar Sailani were known to be members of the ASG/UTG in Sulu Province and not as Intelligence Agents of the military.”
Goltiao said Iting Sailani was killed on August 12, 2006 when the police discovered the safehouse of Sailani and company in Zone III, Tulay, Jolo, Sulu. A joint police-military team went to the place and engaged the suspects in a “firefight that lasted for an hour which
resulted in the killing of Iting Sailani and three other unidentified persons.” A policeman was killed and five from the government forces were injured.
“The other surviving suspect, Omar Sailani, is included in the watch list and still subject for manhunt,” Goltiao wrote.
But in early June 2007, barely three months after Goltiao’s letter, Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro, then chief of the Western Mindanao Regional Police-Intelligence Division, announced in Zamboanga City that the reward money for the capture of the Sailani brothers had been raised to P3 million each, from a measly hundred thousand pesos each in November 2004.
Iting Sailani, killed on August 12, 2006, according to the March 2007 letter of Goltiao, was in Casimiro’s June 2007 announcement, “alive” with the reward money even raised to P3 million from P100,000 in November 2004.
Casimiro said the two brothers were classified as high profile criminals with the offer of P3 million reward each for information leading to their arrest. He said the brothers had topped the reward list of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for their alleged involvement, among others, in an October 2006 operation that led to the death of 11 persons.
On June 21, 2007, two weeks after the announcement on the raising of reward money, the brothers were reported to have been killed in Basilan. There is no information on who claimed the P6 million reward money. (MindaNews)