Ten years later, still no justice for Gene Boyd

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  • DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 November) –  Ten Years. Still no justice.

Family, friends and colleagues joined photojournalist Rene Lumawag in lighting candles at the the grave of photojournalist son Gene Boyd Lumawag late Wednesday afternoon, November 12, at the San Pedro Memorial Park, on the anniversary of his killing 10 years ago in Jolo, Sulu.

Justice has remained elusive even as in the records of the police and Task Force Newsman, Gene Boyd’s case had been stamped “solved” as a case had been filed against the suspects – the Sailani brothers – Iting and Omar, days after the killing.

The brothers were initially reported at large, one of them later reported killed but “resurrected” after the reward money for their capture was increased to P6 million and killed again.

Gene Boyd, MindaNews’Photo Editor, was gunned down in Jolo, Sulu on November 12, 2004, while taking photographs of the sunset at the pier. He was to celebrate his 27th birthday on December 14 that year.

The military and police in Sulu claimed Gene Boyd was killed by members of the “Urban Terrorist Group” of the Abu Sayyaf.

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TEN YEARS. Phootjournalist Rene B. Lumawag arranges the candles at the grave of photojournalist son Gene Boyd R.Lumawag during a gathering at the San Pedro Memorial Park in Davao City late Wednesday afternoon, 12 November 2014,  the 10th anniversary of his killing in Jolo, Sulu. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano 

Five days after the killing, the police filed a complaint of murder against the brothers and the following month, the prosecutor’s officecharged 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 when Gene Boyd was killed 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)

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