A year later, same call: Justice for the Vigos

“Justice has become very elusive. For a year, there has been no clear investigation as to who did the killings,” lamented Fr. Peter Geremiah, PIME, the couple’s spiritual adviser for more than 10 years.

Geremiah cited a report made in 2006 by a team of police investigators from Region 11 where it said that a “very influential person” was tagged as behind the killing.

Such report, however, has not yet been made public, according to Geremiah.

When asked as to whether they are contemplating on filing a case against that person, Ruby Padilla-Sison, one of the closest friends of George and Macel, said they are still gathering documents and evidences relative to it.

“We want to make it sure we’re doing the right thing. We can’t make mistakes,” said Sison in a radio interview.

Sison cited an instance in June 2006 where Norma Alave, mother of Macel, had to retrieve from the police files her affidavit citing Jhonever alias Jec-Jec Madangguit as the mastermind in the killing.

“The immediate families believe that Madangguit was a fall guy. So as not to make mistakes, we have to pull out Norma’s affidavit from the files,” said Sison.

Madangguit, one of the three suspects tagged in the killing, died in a mysterious death in a remote town in Agusan del Sur on June 3. Relatives are saying he died in a vehicular accident but police said it was in a shoot-out.

Madangguit was believed to be on another mission to kill in Agusan del Sur. His target, however, sensed the killing so they engaged each other in a firefight.

In the midst of this, Norma, now 65, is still not losing hope.

Norma with three of the five Vigo kids

Her strength, she said, is her five grand children from Macel and George who, just like her, have not yet gotten over their death.

“Without these children, I could have died, too,” said Norma in today’s forum initiated by George and Macel’s friends and immediate relatives as part of their commemoration of the couple’s death.

Of the Vigo orphans, youngest John Rev, only three years old, is still unmindful that he no longer has parents to support him in his growing years. If asked where her parents went, he would quip and say, “Up there in heaven.”

Norma can only say, “I no longer think of their deaths, though I sometimes do. But what I’m thinking right now is how we can survive tomorrow. I’m getting old. Who will think about them if I die?”

George and Macel, both in the prime of their career, were gunned down while on their way home to Apo Sandawa Homes Subdivision here.

George was former project coordinator of the Mindanao Youth Leadership Program of the Community Family and Services International (CFSI), a foreign-funded non-governmental organization based in Cotabato City. He used to host a weekly program over radio station DXND entitled “Tingog sa Kabatan-onan” (Voice of the Youth), which also tackled issues confronting the indigenous peoples.

Macel was program host of “Congress Update,” a weekly radio program that discussed bills and other legislations made by North Cotabato’s first district representative Lala Talinio-Mendoza.

Both radio programs were heard over DXND, a Catholic-run radio station owned by the missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate here.

The Karapatan, an alliance of human rights advocates in Mindanao, has accused the Arroyo government as behind these extra-judicial killings, which they said was the worst in the history since freedom was restored in the country in 1986.

The killings of George and Macel were included in the more than 840 political killings and in the more than 80 media slay since 1986.

“We again cry for justice for George and Macel as we remember them today. We will continue this cry until justice is served,” said Karapatan.