I do not wish to prolong the exchanges between my fraternity brother, Macabangkit Lanto, and I. My only wish is to correct certain remarks in his riposte to my previous letter to you.
He impliedly accused me of being “unkind” to him. What did he expect from me? That I would quietly suffer his insult? He said in his first article: “It’s a bare lie to say that there was no massacre during Marcos martial law.” From those quoted words one could readily perceive that he virtually called me a liar.
He also mentioned again the Tacub incident in Lanao del Norte. As I said previously in my letter to you, the Tacub incident was an offshoot of the political rivalry at that time between two powerful political families in Lanao del Norte. The Tacub incident was one of the many bloody events spawned by the violent conflict between the “Barracudas,” identified with the Dimaporo family and the “Ilagas,” identified with the Quibranza family.
I do not wish to doubt my fraternity brother. But, if indeed his relatives were involved in that Tacub incident, why did he not come to the widely publicized conference held in Baroy, Lanao del Norte in September 1971 — this was before the martial law of President Marcos — and raised the issue about his relatives whom he now claims to have been killed in that incident? I was the representative of President Marcos and the chairman in that conference which ended the bloody mess in Lanao del Norte.
Aside from the warring politicians and their ardent followers and civic leaders of Lanao del Norte, members of a Joint Fact-Finding Congressional Committee to investigate the condition of law and order in Lanao del Norte attended that conference. The legislators who attended included former Sen. Leonardo Perez, Chairman of the Senate Defense Committee; Teodulo Natividad, Chairman of the House Committee on Public Order and Security; Constantino Navarro, Chairman of the House Defense Committee; former Congressmen Frisco San Juan of Rizal; Roque Ablan of Ilocos Norte; Indanan Anni of Sulu; Eduardo Cojuangco of Tarlac and Lucas Cauton of Ilocos Sur.
With me also in that conference were Brig. Gen. Eduardo Garcia, Chief of the Philippine Constabulary; Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan, Commander of the Fourth P. C. Zone; Lt. Col. Cirilo Bueno, Commander of Task Force Pagari and Lt. Col. Jimmy Bangcola, P.C. Provincial Commander of Lanao del Norte, a Maranaw, just like my fraternity brother. By the way, the officers of the P. C. provincial command of Lanao del Norte at that time were nearly all Muslims.
My fraternity brother also referred again to his being detained during Marcos’s martial law because of the Marawi rebellion in October 1972. True, the Defense Department had an order of battle for those who were involved in that rebellion. But, I never read his name in that order of battle, much less heard his involvement in the rebellion.
What I vividly recall was a “Sakar Basman.” He was the numero uno in that order of battle.
He was a former Marawi policeman. He led the attack that overran the constabulary detachment at Pantar Bridge in Marawi. His Muslim rebels took over the unoccupied training barracks in Camp Amay Pakpak (formerly called “Camp Keithley”) and raised a red flag over it. Afterwards, they burned that training barracks and other buildings. They also occupied the Mindanao State University, seized the radio station which they used to broadcast and agitate the people to rise against the Government.
I was in Marawi during that incident. I was there to supervise the recovery of Toshio Urabe, the Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines. He was trapped in the Mindanao State University while he was visiting that institution as guest of its president.
While I was in Marawi during the retrieval of Ambassador Toshio Urabe from the Mindanao State University, I never heard anyone talking about or mentioning the involvement of my fraternity brother with the Marawi rebellion of Sakar Basman.
My dear fraternity brother, I tried to call you. I even enlisted the help of our fraternity brothers, Boy Reyno and Ferdie Domingo, to reach you. Ask them. Even before I wrote this letter, I tried again to reach you. But like before, I was unsuccessful. I am sorry to say this. It is easier to reach the President of the Philippines than you.