THE frothing-in-the mouth outrage expressed by Yellow commentators and even academics such as Ambeth Ocampo over a young actor’s remark that history is like tsismis is a classic case of that quip from Shakespeare: “The lady doth protest too much.”
The Yellows protest too much: they have been transforming many deliberately concocted rumors into their version of history, which they now claim cannot be “revised.”
Here is one example: the alleged killing of Manuel “Boyet” Mijares, purportedly by being thrown off a helicopter. A Yellow writer melodramatized to tear-jerking levels — a whole page of the oversized book was devoted to his photo — this rumor by entitling the lead chapter of her mostly cut-and-paste book, as The Boy who Fell from the Sky. The book was reportedly bankrolled by Yellow businessmen who made sure it contained the propaganda they wanted by having an “editorial board” that included the Lopez clan’s Manuel (though identified only as “Manolo Lopez”).
The chapter claimed that Mijares was tortured and killed in 1977 in a really brutal manner by Marcos’ minions in revenge for his father Primitivo Mijares’ defection as the strongman’s covert PR operator in 1976. The elder Mijares had written a book that allegedly revealed the corruption of the Marcos couple, titled The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.
An uncritical reader would certainly condemn Marcos to hell, and be a forever Marcos-basher for such a dastardly crime inflicted on an innocent boy especially as he can easily imagine unforgettable scenes of people being thrown off or threatened to be thrown off helicopters, as in “The Gods Must be Crazy,” “Narcos” and even “The Dark Knight Rises.”
But those were movies, and those blood-curling scenes I suspect gave the Yellow propagandists the inspiration for their Mijares tale. Why would “Marcos minions” go through all the trouble, expense and the risk of throwing a 15-year-old boy from a helicopter? That kind of ruthless crime would have been talked about immediately, leaked probably by the pilot and the ground crew, who are required to sign off the flight manifest.
In fact, the first rumor of somebody being thrown off a helicopter involved Boyet’s father himself who disappeared in the US after giving a testimony in a congressional committee urging the US government to condemn Marcos’ marital law regime, and alleging that the strongman attempted to bribe him for $100,000 not to testify. Apparently that tsismis had too few tear-jerking elements that it didn’t get any traction. So another one, more shocking, was concocted.
Mijares’ congressional testimony and book was largely ignored. Marcos was at the height of his popularity in the US, even portrayed as the Filipino equivalent of John and Jackie Kennedy. The American mind was elsewhere in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation. More importantly, except for corruption involving rice imports by Marcos’ cronies and the revelation of his extra-marital activities, the book was a dud.
Its credibility would later be shot because of its two huge lies. First, Mijares claimed that Marcos was responsible for the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing. But it has been established incontrovertibly that it was undertaken by the Communist Party as their leaders put it, “to accelerate the revolutionary flow.” Second, Mijares claimed that the landing of over 2,000 rifles at Digoyo Point in Isabela in 1971 was a sham, that it was undertaken by Marcos’ troops to exaggerate the communist threat so he could declare martial law. Participants in the arms landing, as well as those who planned it, have declared that the arms were supplied by China, intended for the New People’s Army.
Why did Mijares — Marcos’ trusted media operator who had disguised himself as a columnist of the Daily Express — turn his back on the strongman and vanished in the US?
The very religious former senator Francisco Kit Tatad, who was Marcos spokesman and a colleague of Mijares, has given us clues why, in his book published last year, All is Grace: An Autobiography.
Tatad narrated that while Mijares had worked at the Lopezes’ Manila Chronicle in the 1960s, he would be later fired, because of, according to him, his “refusal to attack Marcos.” Tatad said that upon Marcos’ orders, he got Mijares a slot as a columnist in the Daily Express, owned by Marcos’ ally, Roberto Benedicto. (According to Mijares’ own book The Conjugal Dictatorship, Marcos got to trust him so much that it became his job to clear with him news stories — real and invented — that he would then disseminate to other newspapermen.)
Tatad wrote: “The real story behind his losing his job at the Chronicle is one for the books. In the 1969 presidential elections when Fernando Lopez was running as Marcos’ vice president, Mijares was assigned to cover the Marcos-Lopez campaign. But the Lopezes learned very much later that instead of carrying out his assignment, Mijares went gambling in Las Vegas while a paid hack wrote for him his by-lined campaign stories. He also reportedly left a trail of gambling debts, which embarrassed the Lopezes.”
Tatad’s report immediately raised in my mind the conjectures: Was Mijares killed by gambling lords as he couldn’t pay off his debts? Or did he change his identity to escape his creditors and to vanish in the huge expanse that is the US?
This report that the Lopezes were angry at Mijares would also solve what was a puzzle for me. Mijares’ wife, Priscilla, who served as regional trial judge during martial law, had joined the civil action class suit filed in 1992 against Marcos in a Hawaii court, claiming her son Boyet was killed by Marcos’ minions. (Strangely though, she didn’t file one claiming her husband was also killed by Marcos agents.)
The American court upheld her claim, along with the first 2,000 others who submitted such claims, and ordered that Boyet’s mother be paid $140,000. Priscilla filed unsuccessful suits first, at a Philippine trial court and then an appeals court for the compensation ordered to be paid. The courts dismissed her pleas, declaring that US courts’ jurisdiction does not extend to the Philippines.
However when a law was passed during Benigno Aquino 3rd’s term ordering the payments to those that the Hawaii judge declared as victims of Marcos human rights violations, Boyet was not included.
Did the Yellows’ wrath against Boyet’s father extend to his mother?
There is no evidence nor any testimony that Boyet was killed by Marcos minions, tortured and then thrown off a helicopter. All we have are the Yellow writers’ movie-like tale and his mother’s claim that she filed in order to collect compensation for a human rights victim from a US court.
Ranged against these is a Manila trial court’s decision that Boyet was killed in a failed kidnap-for-ransom attempt, in which the three of the perpetrators were convicted to life imprisonment.
A professional historian will also consider evidence stronger than the claims by people, and will even quote a newspaper, the New York Times June 19 edition, that reported:
“The Philippines police said today that four men had been arrested for the murder of 15‐year‐old Luis Manuel Mijares, son of one of President Ferdinand Marcos’ severest critics. The youth’s beaten and stabbed body was identified on Friday after he had been missing since May 30.
The boy’s father, Primitivo Mijares, has exiled himself in the United States, where he has been making speeches critical of the martial law regime of President Marcos. He was formerly the head of the government’s Media Advisory Council.”
Who was the police officer who investigated the case and filed the charges? Then Philippine Constabulary 1st Lt. Panfilo Lacson, five years after graduating from the Philippine Military Academy who was then with the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group.
The official website of the two-term senator and presidential candidate posted this in September last year:
“The Boyet Mijares murder was a kidnap-for-ransom case. After close coordination with then Judge Priscilla Mijares, Lacson and his team solved this case and filed the appropriate case/s before the prosecutor’s office. ‘Official records will bear me out,'” he tweeted.
There are several other tsismis made into Yellow history I will write about them in succeeding columns, a few, as in this Mijares tale, straight out of movie scenes.
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