On Lintuan’s burial: “what peace if justice is not served?”

Lintuan was shot dead at around 9:40 a.m. on Christmas Eve, 28 months after his wife, Nora, succumbed to cancer.

“Today, we lay Ferdie to rest. But what peace if justice is not yet served? If the masterminds are not yet caught? What peace when the reality confronting us remains that journalists are still not free from conditions that make press freedom in this country far from how it should be?”

The questions were asked in a six-paragraph “Requiem for Ferdie” prepared by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Davao chapter and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilippinas (KBP) Davao and Region XI.

The “Requiem” was read as candles were lit just before Ferdies’ remains were lowered to his – and his wife Nora’s — grave at the Buhangin Memorial Park at 12:45 noon.

“This light we carry is the symbol, that just as it chases away the dark, through our unwavering fight for justice, the flicker that brings the truth about his death, in the end, prevails. We shall keep the light burning,” it said.

Some 300 relatives, neighbors and colleagues gathered at the chapel for the mass and last rites for Ferdie.

A few prominent politicians were around but were not mentioned. “Mabuti naman at hindi ginamitan ng politika itong funeral ni Ferdie” (It’s good that politics was not allowed in Ferdie’s funeral), a reporter said.

Some of the politicians’ names, however, were printed on the jeeps and trucks they lent to ferry those who would attend the funeral.

Antonio M. Ajero, SunStar Davao publisher who recruited student-scholars Ferdie Lintuan and Edgar Nagar into the University of Mindanao Broadcasting Network (UMBN) some 30 years ago, recalled in his eulogy that he initially thought Ferdie would not continue in the media profession because he wanted to be a lawyer. He said Ferdie left to work as assistant to the mayor of Monkayo, his hometown in Davao del Norte (now in Compostela Valley province) but returned to this city to continue his media work.

Ajero urged the public to focus attention on Ferdie’s sons, Jan Marc, 20; Franz Ferdinand, 18; Steve, 14, and Von Carlo, 10. “Kinsay magpakaon kanila karon nga patay na ang ilang amahan? Kinsay magpatungha kanila? Kinsay moamoma kanila, kinsay magmatuto kanila hangtud nga makabarog na sila sa ilang kaugalingong kusog ug paningkamot?” (Who will feed them now that their father is dead? Who will send them to school? Who will take care of them, look after them until they can stand on their own?), Ajero asked.

Ajero said it is important that these questions be answered because what happened with the children of media workers who were also killed violently should not happen again.

Ajero asked about the children of Jun Pala, the children of Leo Palo and the children of other media workers who were killed. “Di ba nakalimtan na intawon sila human sa gahub sa publisidad bahin sa ilang mga trahedya? Human sa mga pasiatab nga tabangan sila, diba napasagdan na sila nga nag-inusarang nakigbisog sa mga unos sa kinabuhi ug
kawad-on?” (Have they not been forgotten after the publicity on their tragedy waned? After the pledges to help them, were they not left to fend for themselves), Ajero asked.

He said they have been preparing data on the children’s basic needs, which will be disseminated as soon as it’s done, so that people will know what help they can give.

Tek Ocampo of GMA-7 said media is among the most vulnerable sectors. Ver Bermudez, editor in chief of the Mindanao Insider said Ferdie or Batman (Ferdie’s radio name which is short for Batang Mandaya or Mandaya child) may have been killed but his crusade lives on.  “Batman is dead but he will return,” Bermudez said.

Lintuan’s cousin, Erlinea Salomeri, recalled how Ferdie, the youngest child, wanted to finish not just elementary but high school and college. Salomeri said Ferdie would walk six kilometers to school because there was no road yet, at that time, in Naboc, Monkayo, a town that used to belong to Davao del Norte but is now part of Compostela Valley.

Salomeri said it was so difficult on the first night at the funeral parlor when Jan Marc, Ferdie’s eldest son, asked her, “how will we survive?”

She said she could only assure Jan Marc, “God is not sleeping, there will be people who will help.”

The arrest of  Oliver Antok, described by regional police director, Chief Superintendent Andres Caro as a “possible suspect” in the killing of Lintuan as two of three witnesses positively identified him, was mentioned only once during the eulogy. Antok was nabbed
Friday night while buying roasted chicken in Banok’s Buhangin branch. He was charged with illegal possession of firearms and shabu. Caro told reporters Saturday night that Antok will undergo further investigation.

Jan Marc spoke about how his dad and mom stressed to them the need to move on despite difficulties. He said their parents taught them never to retreat when there are difficulties.

Addressing his father, he said, “both you and mom are together. Thank you and please help me apply those lessons you’ve taught. Thank you for making me like this. I will not promise that I can do the burden that you’ve left me but of course, failure is not an option.”

Journalists and sympathizers wore black armbands printed with “Justice for Ferdie! Stop killing journalists!.”

Some relatives wore black shirts printed with “Batman is dead” in yellow or orange.

It must have been unusual for many that the Queen’s famous “Bohemian Rhapsody” was playing as they viewed Ferdie’s remains for the last time at the chapel.

It was Ferdie’s favorite song. Ferdie’s relatives, however, requested that the song “Tanging Yaman” be played also.

Journalists sang along when “Bohemian Rhapsody” was played again just before Ferdie’s casket was moved out of the chapel to his grave. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)