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News :: Human Rights
HUNGER STRIKER, ON HIS 36TH DAY, STILL NO ACTIONS FROM THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT
by Ernest Barraquias Jr.
Email: ejwfn (nospam) yahoo.com
Phone: (63) 926-570-79-70
26 Jul 2004
Hunger Strike announcement of the discoverer & whistle-blower of seized drugs distribution by high-ranking police generals & drug lords in the Philippines. They used his company. Assasination attempts on him. Richswaze, his nephew-dependent, now 10 held virtual hostage.
26 July 2004
Subject - The country is ranked by the latest United Nations report to be the 3rd biggest producer & exporter of the metamphetamine hydrochloride, called “shabu”, but commonly called “meth”, “ice”, “crack” in the United States where the instantly addictive illegal substance is becoming extremely popular in the West Coast & Southern States. The Philippines is also an acknowledged major transshipment of the said drugs to other countries.
Ernest Barrquias Jr., president of a paper distribution company in the Philippines. My 2 nephew-dependents are Thomas Barraquias Bernas & Richswaze Barraquias.
Excerpts from the leaflets I\m distributing by the hundreds of thousands in cities around the Philippines near the end of this article. I’m doing it mostly alone after some powerful hand blocked news reporting about me except the major daily & the No. 1 TV network. Example below,
“For his discoveries of illegal drug trade by a group, he was twice forced hospitalized by some suspects including relatives, first using his own funds. He was neglected, severely beaten , & given harsh punishments, once for refusing to sign blank checks & an SPA. During both times, suspects that include employees run his ompany and committed theft of funds and stocks, and facilitated drugs distribution. Upon release, he found out that his master’s bedroom was used for shabu sessions and immorality. He foiled an attempt to hang/murder him shortly after. Hundreds of thousands were paid to facilities for his illegal detention, but some staff at Metropsych-Pasig even warned him that he would never get out unless he cooperates with the suspects & petitioners or that he would commit suicide & be successful at that. Their bank manager, a neighbor, even had an illegal / bogus account named to Ernest company, NuStaples, be opened then. He is close to Thomas Bernas, Ernest’s nephew-dependent, the small company’s VPresident.”
You are a little man fighting for a big cause. If you fight evil, remember Ernest, evil will fight back.
- Archbishop Oscar Cruz
Why is Ernest on hunger strike?
It is to press the top law-enforcement officials of the country to conduct investigations on the complaints he has filed with the National Bureau of Investigation (our FBI equivalent), and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, a special national anti-organized crime unit of the Philippine National Police. My complaints none of which are being acted upon, are all related to the assassination attempts and grave threats on me in the last 3 years. It is directly related to the efforts of a group of high-ranking police officials who developed a new distribution network and invaded new ones (from other drug lords) using my nephew-dependent who is an expert in logistics, and my company, which has a very efficient national distribution network in the Philippines.
I won’t eat anymore liquid or solid foods unless concrete, sensible & trustworthy investigations are already on going. My complaints, mostly filed with the NBI are the following â
- The failed abduction attempt on me on 26 January 2004 where I managed to make
live calls to the NBI, members of my family, & my lawyer Atty. Romeo Igot, who turned out to be the lawyer of many influential police generals too. My Expedition was even silently towed near the corner of EDSA/Ortigas Avenues, one of Manila’s busiest. They made it appear a usual kidnappimg case and made a member of my family suspect.
- The staged abduction of my nephew-dependent on 24 January 2004. He is however, also a suspect but held due to their grave concerns when I begun to see new law firms & lawyers, & secured some potential key evidences.
- On Richswaze Barraquias, my other nephew-dependent who also lived with me since the age of 2 in my rented house. He is now 10, and he was not aware that he was a virtual hostage for 3 years. I was constantly warned that if I “love him enough…” I should not expose my discoveries to the media, nor file formal requests for investigations and complaints.
- Inaction of the NBI on my other complaints including theft of company funds and stocks amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, most of which were committed by Thom’s group & collaborator-employees who also used to it to fund their sub-group’s illegal drug trade. Mr. Jacinto Morales, the Senior Bank Manager who handled our account at Security Bank where he committed fraud and possibly money laundering using accounts named to my company, also found his way to our new bank where he deliberately opened a bogus/illegal account named to my company during my illegal detention.
I’m now back in the Philippines after escaping through the new southern Philippines international airport of Davao City to Singapore on March 11 via a Singapore/Silk Airlines. I came back on 27 May and went into hiding but am now out in the open. Until now, I have not seen Richswaze and I have not gone home yet for security reasons. However, I’m traveling to the country’s key cities to distribute hundreds of thousands of leaflets that explain why I’m on hunger strike and that I’m seeking the public’s help in sending petition letters to the country’s top authorities. In many times I am all-alone and in my TV interviews, I expressed fear but I plan to continue with what I’m doing. I have always downplayed my concerns in my interviews and petition leaflets and I declined to name high-ranking suspects and only disclosed their low ranking subordinates. They had record-breaking seizures of “shabu” last year amounting to more than 200million US dollars, PRIOR to the national elections this year, last May 11.
Please help me. Post this in the internet, or help me have this publicized in the international media. It will seriously help me because suspects have political careers or are closely related to the top officials and hopefully, it will lessen their active efforts to “contain” me or in making me “disappeared”. The Philippine Daily Inquirer, the country’s leading daily, on its July 24/25 issue, had a story on my abduction (only) on its 2nd frontpage. ABS-CBN, the country’s leading TV network, had reports on my hunger strike only but didn’t much tackled the issues. I was told that major reporters of the country (not of the 2 mentioned news organizations) were asked by police officials close to Malacanang Palace not to publicize or air their interviews of me. The organized crime group members and the high-ranking officials-suspects intimidated me by saying they have vast influences over the local media, the judiciary, and the most influential politicians.
The country’s President Arroyo, through the office of her husband First Gentleman Arroyo, was given documents pertaining to my complaints and my hunger-strike. Same with the office of the Vice President Noli De Castro, as well as some Senators & Congress Representatives. Archbishop Oscar Cruz, the academic communities of the country’s leading universities - De La Salle University-Manila & University of the Philippines expressed support but they can only do so much.
While touring the major cities, I wear 2 big laminated cardboard (front & back) that says I’m on hunger-strike & the phrase “Seized drugs bought back by drug lords, other distributed back in the market, they’ve used my company and want to take our lives”, shorter when expressed in Tagalog, our local language. I get many supporting words and encouragements, and people are very much concerned with me and my state of health, but I’m determined to go ahead.
Short Narration of Key Events that led to my Hunger Strike since 18 June 2004
In the year 2000, my former business partner and I, split up. We the both founded competing companies. I and my 2 nephew-dependents, as well as key stay-in employees moved to Cainta, Rizal, a town nearer the major financial & business districts of Metro Manila than many other cities in the Capital Region of Metro Manila. We settled in a relatively big house.
On December (10?) of 2001, I was warned directly by members of the Cainta Police that I should be silent on my discoveries of their recruitment of Thomas in their group, my nephew-dependent who was Vice President of our company. Their group includes gangs, drug syndicates, high-ranking police generals, and possibly our neighbor bank manager Jacinto Morales. Since then, employees would only pack at night and make unauthorized and unscheduled deliveries to certain clients in certain places as they wish, and used our operations to distribute drugs in many places. Seized drugs cannot be easily sold back to the “market” because drug lords in this country are sometimes more politically powerful and police generals would not want to raise their ire. Thom and employees who are members of their group too, would also directly “run” significant volume of drugs in may places in cities north of Manila. He drove our Ford F-150 & Expedition, considered ultimate luxuries driven mostly by the country’s elite, so he was never stopped by the police, never even when he would rampantly violate traffic laws. He also brought other kinds of drugs back to Manila. I know the places, & some persons.
In the summer of 2002, I nervously managed to snap a picture of the drugs in one of the boxes for delivery the following day. I handed it over to NBI agents Lowell Estiandan, my first cousin, and his other partners. They also obtained many evidences for lab analysis. They conducted some investigations, especially about the employees I declared as suspects and syndicate members who infiltrated the company. Then, nothing happened. I even spent so much funds, but nothing happened, & some investigators turned out be corrupt & some eventually threatened me too.
I was illegally detained and hospitalized because my siblings, who did not bother to see me, were influenced into believing that I was into drugs. They signed an expensive rehabilitation contract for me at the Metropsych-Pasig, but I was instead released by the Doctor. I stayed in hospitals for 3 months, May-August 2002. Upon discharge, I discovered even more anomalies in the company and it was being run by employee-suspects. While I was in the hospital, Jacinto Morales the bank manager opened a bogus / illegal account named to my company but the deposited & withdrawn legitimate funds amounted to around 50thousand US dollars, less than the earlier fraud & similar incidents. Many evidences against the group were destroyed or gone missing.
Every year during our peak season of January to May, I constantly travel around the country because we don’t have provincial offices and I take care of the booking of our key accounts. So I was mostly physically absent from the company and Thom and some key employees had a direct hand in the packaging and deliveries departments. Our company distributes mostly imported paper products and forms in all the major bookstores, grocery stores, and department stores nationwide. I thought I had good control systems, but it was inadequate, and afterall, Richswaze and I were virtual hostages. Paper products are heavy, so is “shabu”.
On 22 January 2004, Thom disappeared, together with my key properties that would prevent me from traveling. 4 Days after the attempt to abduct me failed because I had escaped. On 9 February 2004, the close family friend of the country’s biggest drug lord claimed to have negiated for my life. Then I learned how even more powerful the group is because I was like a state enemy since then and I was under intense surveillances. I managed to go to Singapore on 11 March 2004.
Right now they’re into assessing whom I have talked to while abroad, to whom did I communicate with, and who now knows all about this. When I talked to international agencies, including human rights groups and international law-enforcement bodies, I declared names. They bribed someone to steal my passport, new directory, & complete flashdisk backup of my laptop computer, and my ID’s.
Please help me, publicize my story and my reasons for my hunger strike to press the Philippine President & her government to act.
Thank you so much.
Excerpts from my leaflets:
”Ernest Barraquias Jr. had 2 nephew-dependents who lived with him – Richswaze (10), and Thomas (23), the company’s Vice President who facilitated their seized drug distribution & who financed his own sub-group. He sent them both to schools and gave them more than enough material comforts. His fatherly love & care for Richswaze was exploited by the organized crime group that include some members of the Cainta Police. They lived in relative normalcy but without peace of mind in the last 3 years and could not actively seek help because they were under grave threats. There were abduction & murder attempts against him prior to the incidents this year. He left Manila in the late Feb of this year and traveled in the South for business, but upon reaching Davao City, took a flight to Singapore. He came back only late on May of this year and decided to come out in the open despite serious threats on his life.”
What are his simple & reasonable demands? â
ü For the NBI & or the CIDG or other crime-fighting agencies of the government
to conduct speedy, trustworthy, & complete investigations on his exposures, and
on his many complaints. Until there are initial concrete progress & results, Ernest will continue on his hunger-strike.
Secondary - Target wider issues / Ernest humble suggestions
ü That the government or the DepEd should incorporate education on the hazards or death threats posed by illegal
drug use in one of its subjects. A chapter in a textbook or a required free seminar would go a long way in preventing drug use among millions of youth compared to the measly deterrent (if at all effective) effect of the random drug testing or simple posters among students.
ü For the government to tackle the sensitive issue that some seized drugs in some places are re-distributed back to the “market”. Establish a simple mechanism in which seized drugs accounting, storage and destruction should be accounted for & witnessed by an independent watchdog or any other accredited civic-groups & respected public or media personalities.
ü That an independent body should be allowed to interview or observe then evaluate new psychiatric or rehab patients to determine the legitimacy of their hospitalization in such kind of facilities. Do you know that you can get hospitalized or illegally detained for flimsy reasons like you argued or disagreed with your parents and that they have money to pay some all too-willing doctors or facilities especially if the amount is a hundred thousand pesos or more? Its functions include physical checking & evaluations of the compliance of such facilities with regards to the governing regulations and laws in terms of programs, facilities, staff, fees and all. It then file reports to the DDB for recommended actions or commendations but none among the latter should ever be a member.
Ernest is fully aware of the serious health risks of being on hunger strike. He has reasons to believe that without resorting to this, nothing will happen to the investigations, if there would be any. He is in grave danger anyway. He hopes that his sacrifice will help save some new victims who could be anyone of us. He has stopped drinking juices and sustains himself only with water now. He believes that it is his social responsibility to expose his discoveries. Furthermore, rather than stay somewhere, he opted to be productive & do public service instead for as long as his health permits. Lowell caused much of the division in Ernest’s siblings because he deceived & misinformed them. He intimidated & blackmailed families of 2 rape victims one is our minor-age maid hired by Thom. He then covered up for the suspects, one of them is Thom.
He can no longer bear living without basic freedom from intentional & immediate threats some from the authorities he is supposed to get help from. His concerns are not of immediate national concerns but an individual life matters, like yours. The syndicate, which mercilessly victimized Ernest and his nephew Richswaze, must have already caused great harm to so many young people. Their trade must be causing grave deterioration and harm to your family, school, or neighborhood, & in our society in general. Anyone of us could fall victims to the same suspects or trade directly or indirectly. Suspects claim they are so influential they even have some hard-hitting media personalities and some big-name politicians on their side because of their big campaign donations. Do you believe them?
We’re crime victims. Who’s next? “Not me!” I heard you said. Don’t always count on it.
PLEASE HELP ERNEST ON HIS PETITION. WRITE TO YOUR LOCAL CONGRESS REPRESENTATIVE, SENATORS, PNP OR NBI CHIEF, OR TO OUR PRESIDENT. BELIEVE US, THEY WILL LISTEN - TO YOU! All you have to do is write to them. Please do, or pass this paper.
Ernest Barraquias Jr.
2627 Concord St., Brookside Hills,
Cainta, Rizal (Manila suburb close to the financial district)
Presently living in
C/O Alfredo / Marivic Mangonon
Mobile Phone No. (63) 926-570-79-70
LandPhone (63-75) 568-79-31
This work is in the public domain