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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chapter 21 - Imprisonment

Chapter 21

     Events just happened that fast. Fr. Driarco was herded in a prison like a lamb, willing victim from the virtue of warrant of arrest issued by Judge Pedrosa. His crime – death of Mayor Jose Torres!
          How could it be when nothing is heard about the incident until today when warrant of arrest was tendered to him.
        “He was discovered dead in his office last night still sitting on his chair with a hole in his forehead. . .  .” Police Inspector told him.
        “That simple and here you are arresting me . . . “
        “Sorry, but a witness is there to testify how and when you did it . . . . “
        “One of your trusted sacristan . . . . “
        “Come again . . . . “ he protested in disbelief.
        “Roger! How could he be a Judas . . . . “
        “You have the time for your defense Fr. Your counsel could handle that,” the Inspector retorted locking the key for his temporary incarceration until formal complaint charged against him.
The National Tribune, a nationwide daily picked up the incarceration of Fr. Driarco and Rene, the fourth sacristan he took under his wings after Jojo, Abel and Roger. The newspaper wrote that the faithful has been remiss of their parish priest’s services. His Excellency, Bishop Julian Valdes, was also quoted saying he would not send any replacement in protest of the injustices committed against his parishioners notably Fr. Driarco, Rene and their families.
        “Due process of law, that’s what everybody else are after for,” the good Bishop was quoted.
Mayor Torres’ was Marcos top gun in the province and the Apo might just want to show his invincibility and strong grip of the law all the way down to the lowest local officials and yes even priests!.
        The parish on the one hand, has been moving heaven and earth to bail Fr. Driarco and his sacristan Rene out from the prison cell.
        “If you would only be after my freedom leaving behind Rene inside the prison cell, then better forget it.  But if you do I’ll be most happy,” he said.
        The bail was two hundred fifty thousand pesos probably thinking that the priest could not afford. The amount included that of Rene implicated in the issue who in his early twenty is yet to understand his bitter metamorphosis from a mere sacristan to a prisoner in his tender years. He is yet to complete his high school in Sta. Rita Agricultural School.
        Sedition, serious political offense and murder was slapped on Fr. Driarco. To his surprise, the force  was deliberate effort from the top to drag further the issue to his disadvantage. He is undaunted  however  knowing his innocence.  He knows for a fact that the case would not prosper and would not stand a day in Court.  He is even optimistic that his case might be the key to open Pandora’s box of salvaging and extra-judicial killing in the province.
        “Tip of an iceberg indeed,” he said.
         Should that happen, that would be the perfect time unmasking the ruthlessness of the Mayor or whoever the Mastermind is to the whole world  behind his persecution. The needle would definitely ignite the explosion of the devil that has gripped the once peaceful Sta. Rita.
        “This once sleepy town would no longer be the same again,” he said thinking aloud of possibly reaching that scenario. The needle is encased in a small bottle on the altar in the convent. What if it has been gone taken by the policemen when they ransacked the convent? So far to his knowledge, the Chief of Police, Ben Yalung, Mayor Torres’ firebrand loyalist, did his own work recovering Fr. Driarco’s .38 Magnum caliber. Alas, an additional charge of illegal possession of firearms was added on his case having recovered several rounds of ammunitions, explosives and confidential documents linking him to an underground movement. Driarco could only blow a whistle from the trumped up charges convincing him anew that the lowland is not a place  for a freeman  given an atmosphere of Martial law, anything could happen. The hinterlands, yes. The mountains and hills, they are the strong fortress of those who have been driven away by the military. Where else would these people go? Not in court. The more their issues would be complicated. Chief of Police? No, he is Mayor’s eyes and ears too. Parish priest? Yes because they are  most comfortable with.  Fr. Driarco’s spirit sunk deeper knowing that an addition of seventeen years and four months would be meted against him should the court proved that he owns those explosives and ammunitions and highly classified subversive documents.
        Now it dawned to him the reality of a Catholic priest. People put him in pedestal but same people persecuting him.
        “The path towards the road less travelled is indeed tough. But the harder the journey the Christ-like your travel is” he remembered a note shared by his co-priest overcoming similar sad experience.
What happened to the Apostles  came to his mind. Among the twelve, only John died his natural death. Judas, the traitor of course committed suicide. The rest  suffered tragic end.  James the Greater stabbed with sword; James the Lesser, stoned to death; Thadeus (Jude) felled with arrows; Thomas thrust with a spear; Matthew stabbed with sword; Mathias, Andrew, Phillip and Simon – all crucified. And the brutal and dirtiest tragedy of them all given their roles as strong pillars of the Church – St. Paul beheaded and Peter crucified upside down!
        The most unlikely prisoner didn’t mind his present persecution reflecting on the tragic fate of earliest precursor and defender faith of the Church..
        “Too far from what his predecessors experienced,” he related.
        “But who knows the conspiracy putting him Order of Battle by the Powers-that-be! Just who knows,” an idea cropped up not far fetched too learning how unpredictable devil  is working.

. . . . . . . . .

        Meanwhile with the tacit approval of the warden after exchanging ideas he was allowed to conduct socio-economic survey among the inmates around  the prison camp ironically he once served. And true to his observation, the result of the survey he conducted inside the prison camp validate his theory namely, not all those put behind barbed wire are per se criminal. How could they be when the court has not proven them guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Reviewing his simple statistics – 113 prisoners, 52 females, 61 males. Crimes committed: estafa, arson, murder, qualified theft and surprisingly libel. The rest were not that serious. Mostly with the exemption of some, were ordinary workers. Masons, farmers, carpenters, fishermen and laborers. Taken in its entirely, what irked him most from his observation was the thought that roughly half of the prisoners’ cases have not been solved. This is a good homework when I would be out from the prison cell, he would remind himself.
        Unfortunately, the young priest was not allowed to say mass openly in the prison cell. There’s separation of church and state we observe in this jail, the warden would tell him the latter did not question. But this did not dampen his zeal in saying the mass. He would celebrate the holy Eucharist by himself and when Abel wakes up, between them and God. It’s a commitment I vowed to comply no matter what the cost might be. Despite his sometimes heavy schedule in the prison cell, he would always find time writing his friends. If by working with my parishioners giving them and teaching them how to fish, freeing them from the bondage of sins and injustices is theology of liberation in practice, then so be it. I believe this is better alternative than concocting it on the rostrum in the church. Did Christ not instructed us to help the oppressed, the poor, the marginalized and those manipulated by those in powers-that-be?” he would qualify his present predicament, to selected friends he wrote.
        Similarly, he finds too time writing speaking his minds so to speak giving social commentaries on different issues of the day. But for the meantime, as he is in prison, he opted three writing articles, his reflection on engrossing issue for his readers and parishioners.
“No way writing his cause. It’s hard comprising the devil or he would be slapped anew of libel as his case and that of Abel is still scheduled for arraignment beginning next week. Reading this three articles he thought, it’s okay keeping his sanity kept  intact. Reading them over reviewing them, seeing if there are some loose ends, he felt they’re good reflection on issues of the day:“Accept nothing short of your best. Put such a quality into your work. That anyone who comes across anything you have ever done will see character in it,  individuality in it, your trademark of superiority upon it.” Og Mandino – University of Success
        “It seems probable that the corrupted Visayan and English  phrase “If I know pa lamang, I will never gayod!” sums up mostly the surviving capacity and attitude of would-be writers vis-a-vis to writing either as hobby or as profession.  But is writing really that scary undertaking to do or not? It depends on where you stand.  Do you like taking it as mere lip-service activity just to have the feeling of it? In that case you should reconsider exerting extra effort in learning the craft or you might only end up doing great disservice to yourself wasting away precious time.  The reverse also holds true Once you treat it seriously as very important profession you would soon discover to your heart’s delight that writing actually has been the missing nexus lacking in our sometimes dreary and superfluous life. Raising family, planting a tree and writing a book, a writer would contend makes life complete.
        “. . . I foresee that media being the vanguard of morality would exercise vigilance all the more.  I don’t think that media considered as the fourth branch of the government in this Republic would just allow the destruction of the society’s moral fiber to go on unabated by being so lenient on issues, like gambling, that actually gives more than good.  Pretending of seeing nothing.  That’s not media but comedia.” He reads delighted on his writing baring his soul out giving premium on that urge to write.
“So why are you here in the first place if you would like to become a writer, I would recall somewhere National Artist Nick Joaquin begging question from participants attending related development communication seminar short of saying: go back to your typewriter and write! Indeed, I‘d like to think that time is the most precious commodity among writers.  Although that testy habit of beating the deadline does pump up our adrenaline writing straight news for general reading public in a hurry before typewriter for instance, dirty work or necessary spadework collecting and verifying data had already been done earlier and that packaging the story into news report is merely an icing of the cake.”
        “What kind of stuff writers are made of? Well, like you we all eat rice in this rice eating Republic only that we have more patience and appetite doing our homework.  We all have nerve and instinct to write. No question about this. Accept it. Or call it as gift from above, if you wish lending credence to the truth that writing senses is actually natural and inherent in us.  But to think that writers are relaying mostly on the power of pure instinct to do all the work borders on wrong notion that writing is as easy as singing do-re-mi-. That does not justify the making of  a writer. Consider the magnitude of materials one has to reckon with needed in processing a write-up.  Unless they are on the tip of your fingers or close to it, you can’t just move your pen writing.  Hence, pure instinct or news sense does not guarantee a decent write-up.  Most important thing is the writing skill acquired through learning.  In the words of Vergel O. Santos, veteran journalist and recent speaker of MGSD staff and writers: lies beneath a news writer’s instinct is the very force itself that has given rise and now propels it. Ergo, the importance of knowing and practicing the formula of news writing, editorial and or opinion as the case maybe using English as second language for easy comprehension and interesting reading by general reading public.”
        “We don’t have that gift all right, you might say. Well-taken buddy but you are dead wrong. You do have only you didn’t bother opening it  instead allowing it to gather dust in a corner.  Never mind if re-awakening comes to you this late.  You don’t actually have to worry.  There are too many topics to write about, writing prompts you might say. What are the common issues today many are afraid to bring out in the open?   Whatever happens to our environment, agriculture and industry! What about the government’s way o f handling hostage crisis, recruitment of CAFGU as paramilitary etc.  As an honest taxpayer at least you too feel crazy about these issues.  That could be a good start.”
“Conrad de Quiros, that fiery and articulate columnist of Philippine Daily Inquirer was right when he said that talent plus desperation is the mother of invention, in your case, writing career.  Thus, there seems to be no strict rule when to formally start building the foundation of your career.  Irving Wallace, one of my favorite fiction writer whose works “The Prize,” “The Seventh Secret”, “The Second Lady” and many other certified best sellers embarked writing his best novels after he voluntarily resigned from US military service.  Our very own Sen. Blas Ople, though stammers and incoherent when he talks but very articulate in his column “Horizon” in Manila Bulleting is actually graduate more of paperbacks like many others.  Fictionists NVM Gonzales and Nick Joaquin had little formal schooling if at all yet became master of their craft par excellence.  . . . Obviously, each one has the chance to become a writer as long as he wills it capitalizing on instinct and mastery on the use of theories needed in making interesting story.”
        “. . . Being in  early forties, it’s time to share experiences to any aspiring writers out there. In brief, the following are my few advices for general effective writing:
Write The way you talk. Write directly to your reader straight into his eyes. Observe accepted rule in grammar and composition like consistent use of tense sequence, simple use of punctuation mark and related accepted theories in writing.  Consistency is required or you would end with a puzzle instead of an interesting write-up.
        Use action and picture words.  It is said that writing is just like drawing.  A writer is considered a wordsmith; hence, the importance of selecting from various entries relevant words and coming out with the word that  best expresses your thoughts.  As an artist makes sure that your product has the necessary tone color required for a beautiful portrait nor merely a mixture of color splashed on the canvass ending in abstract only you as an artist can interpret or decipher. Observe semantics. Don’t just assume the meaning of words.  A word has as many as sixteen shades of meanings so better consult it form  either Mr. Webster or Mr. Thesaurus as the case may be.
        Spice you work with sense of humor. Unless you are writing straight news which does not require embellishment, garnish your work occasionally with sense of humor making it palatable.  Humor helps lessening the load of our weary hearts.  Listen how broadcasters capitalize on humor to heighten the interest of their listeners.
        User your common sense.  Drop abstract modifiers that would drag the meaning you’re driving across.  Use both the active voice and positive form as needed but not at the expense of your paper.
Wordwatch.  Watch out using undesirable words.  Use specific words that convey best meaning avoiding sissy words.  I would always hear people saying “self-explanatory” even in many offices. It’s redundant.  Change that to “explainable.” And then there’s the use of the phrase “it goes without saying” or “needless to say”, “as to whether or not”, etc. Why make yourself difficult and pompous when you can just simple use “whether” or mere simple declaration on t he reality of the subject like “To me, the case is closed.”
        Be real. To borrow one Filipino writer.  You opted to become a writer.  By all means stand by it. The world owes you nothing. No one poke a gun on your face to write.
As you would like to become a writer anyway. make the best of it by practicing it learning the craft from masters.
        Character.  Finally , you should only rest from writing before submitting it for publication after you have marked your character in it. At least you are ready to be judged by what you wrote. In the words of Og Mandino:  There is nothing like being enamored of accuracy, being ground in thoroughness as a life-principle of always thriving for excellence. And push more squeezing your adrenaline when all the rest are standouts by making yourself or your work as standard.”
“Having done this, wish yourself good luck.  Little of course did you know that you have already established yourself a reputation as another writer in the making.  As you have done your best, never mind if at the back of your mind lingers the thought of what about some lapses.  Forget it.  You have already done your job.  It’s now your editor’s turn to return the favor on you by repackaging your write-up.  If it is accepted and published.  Fine. If not, you are transformed into a philosopher. Thanks just the same, many philosophers being lover of wisdom, are mostly best writers.”
        “Just fine,” he said after reading.
        “At least readers would think aloud if he is to engage  writing. Taking again his underworld typewriter he writes back this time as his special message to his parishioners on the occasion of Easter never mind if they knew he is imprisoned now. He aptly titled it “Playing with God” he wrote:
“It’s early Saturday morning and probably this piece would see print  Easter Sunday or later where  Christendom  would be celebrating the best and the happiest part of Church’s calendar of the year hearing all those Alleluias in every Christian churches. Far significant and  better than Christmas, the heart and soul of Christianity and where the Church grows, the resurrection of  Jesus Christ,  is by far the best experience albeit it might have baffled  many people of other beliefs all through the ages.
Why not? Here’s a first century Galilean Jew who bearing no credentials and certification has changed the face of the world forever. It’s unprecedented in the history of salvation eclipsing the beauty and wisdom of earlier beliefs from Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism and yes later,  Islam pervading back then and still now practiced by millions. But it’s loud and clear that while these great religious leaders in history  all slept for good after their appearance and preaching, Christ  went all the way up there with a promise of returning back to make us one. His indomitable proof, God  raising him up from the dead after hanging in the cross six hours at Golgotha  under the watch of twenty four Roman guards. That no other equals dared to claim is explainable. It’s such a vital cog that spark that belief in Christianity, claims R.C. Spruce, a theologian.
         It is. In fact, it was such an unprecedented development in salvation history that even nature (the earth quakes, birds chirp ….) as Paul Tillich, great American Theologian taking the Gospel account of the resurrection observed, join in celebrating mankind’s greatest achievement. That albeit  many doubting Thomases, skeptics, agnostics and atheists are yet to come into full circle of reality before they would probably  accept, embrace and live such historical reality  in practice. Man will rot and nothing, not even his own ego will survive, Bertrand Russell, Atheistic Philosopher, bared. No problem there for as long as he stands  and dies for it. He did and there rots like his peers, becoming as good fertilizer to mother earth. John Mc Dovell, another skeptic theologian should have probably seen daylights had he  added more research hours than what he did in getting 700 hours research  concluding that the “resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men exclaiming it was such a fantastic fact of history.” How so? He may spent researching lifetime but if he constantly tiptoeing the resurrection account, nothing would ever convince him  saving his predicament.
        Lindell Black of course similarly imposed his conspiracy theory in his St. Peter’s obra. Well taken. But it’s all in the mind. Where has all the ripple effect he concocted indicating of possible waves generated  by throwing a pebble in the middle of the ocean anyway? Hello there! That he is even sued for parroting what Abraham et al earlier wrote in their epic and gripping Sacred Blood, Blessed Grail scholarly work, indicates that his theory is simply suspect. Plain and simple. Of course, there’s the discovery of the Ossuary, the Titanic director misconstrued to refute Christ’s resurrection. That would have indeed set an unprecedented discovery requiring the re-writing of the Bible. But not until authority dumped his tentative theory in the absence of  DNA test. Lately as uploaded in internet, there’s this nine lead codices discovered after the deluge in Oman and now in safe possession of Bible Scholars in Europe for possible study hopefully to shed light on the last days of Christ. So what when Vatican has been open in accepting even a married Christ . . . !”
        It was such the shortest piece but it’s good to have speak his minds out specially that next Sunday would be Easter. At least his general reading public would be keep posted on his thoughts. But not on his incarceration. He doesn’t have any business talking his predicament to save when the people get the news from secondary data.
         Writing some more this time on the horror that is war sending a strong message that  peace is all what we need, he aptly titled it “War Crimes”  having read the moving book earlier graphics of true story contributed by journalists themselves too cruel hurting  the human eyes.
        “Who knows Mayor Torres and his cohorts might come across on this piece and read and get the wisdom awakening them to become crusaders of peace themselves.”
        “What the public should know about crimes of war? Where do you stand  as far as war in general is concerned? I do know that as we live in a civilized world,  how  I wish that there is no such  thing as war and that there should be peace zones that as they engaged in war, there are no civilian casualties sacrificed.”
        “But let’s accept the hard truth:  sometimes we have to kill to stop the killing,” he recalled a professor back then at Xavier Univ. supporting  the immediacy of war.
 Thus, the concept of Jus ad Bellum and Jus in Bello or  that branch of  international law governing the reasons why you fight and how you fight. In effect, the two are inseparable distinct  ways of looking at war with the second concept deserving strict compliance if only to mitigate the prohibitive cost of war.  But have we?”
        The United Nation is even more emphatic on the necessity of war.  Article 2 from the Charter of United Nations declares: “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state . . . and in Article 51: “Nothing in the present charter shall impair the inherently right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.”
        “Such branch of law relies the customary law, based on recognized practices of war, as well as treaty laws (such as the Hague Regulations of 1899 and 1907) which set out the rules of hostilities.  Other  principal documents include the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 which protect war victims – the sick and wounded (first); the shipwrecked (second); prisoners of war (third); and civilians in the territories of the countries in conflict (fourth) – and the additional Protocols of 1977, which definite key terms such a s combatants, contain detailed provisions to protect noncombatants, medical transports, and civil defense and prohibit practices such as indiscriminate attack.”
        Thus said to what extent have we complied  such criteria? Regrettably, excesses far outweigh the casualties incurred on both sides.  By excesses, I mean those crimes  against humanity incurred in the conduct of war, that irreversible result of crimes of war.
         There are actually only 23 letters in the alphabet but if we sum up all war crimes committed as presented in the book would  give dizzying  figures that cannot be swallowed, let alone, accepted. Add several graphics too gruesome to see as they were presented uncut and you have the worst excesses of atrocities of war crimes of the century.  And the saddest reality of these figures, they are far from stopping as crimes against humanity are still  happening around us, right in our  own backyard, country and the rest of the world.
        Of course, we thought that gone are the days of Holocaust where millions of Jews died courtesy of Hitler’s Superiority of Aryan race; annihilation of  Nagasaki and Hiroshima  and the use of  agent orange and napalm strike leading to  senseless massacre as in My Lai in Vietnam survivors utilized as human mine detectors  as perpetrated by USA. Who too would forget  Pol Pot of Cambodia whose insanity through his dreaded Khmer Rouge’s taking pictures of victims before torturing and killing them led to  killing fields; or   the use of humans as guinea pig in medical experiments for their medical students  as we experienced it in World War II against  the Japanese.
And who thought that war in its ugliest would end after  the Fall of Berlin Wall in Germany paving the way for restoration of democracy not just in Europe, Asia but also China and other countries in the world of the 21’s Century.  Sadly, what once abhorred for its evil and prohibitive cost  has metamorphosed instead into highly dangerous warfare characterized by the use of sophisticated weapons through terrorism and mass extermination, another  name for ethnic cleansing.
        This I know after reading the War Crimes edited by Roy Gutman and David Rieff (W.W. Norton & Com. Inc., New York, New York 1999 397 pp). No doubt  that  war happening in the 21st Century is unparalleled in that it is  ruthless, savage and gruesome than those preceding ones.  True enough, truth becomes the first casualty in every war.  Ninoy Aquino’s dictum “In war there are no victors only  victims!” interrelated  facts could be  summarized from the wisdom of the book.  First, numbers of casualties  in crimes against humanity far offsetting  than  the combatants and second; comprehensive excluding none regardless of color, age, creed and religion. Third, its unprecedented as how the warfare was conducted gives you feeling of fear and trembling.  Oh how I wish, there’s Genie in a bottle that would invent more peace than war, unity than division and justice instead of prejudices and discrimination. Of course that would only be true in the mind, just imagined as John Lennon sings. 
        Consider the sad reality of  apartheid Nelson Mandela clears as “color lines that all too often determines who is rich  or poor. . . who shall get food, clothing and health care . . . and who will live and who will die.”;  use of biological weapons for ethnic cleansing as in Sarajevo and Bosnia; carpet or area bombing as in Saigon, Vietnam in 1968 giving rise to bomb craters ensuing from B-52 strikes; Iraqi chemical warfare as used by Saddam Hussein against Iran and Kuwait; and  using children as soldiers and killers as in Afghanistan, Liberia, Jordan, Iran, Sri Lanka and Spain; collateral damage and collective punishment typified by Israel against Palestine. Concentration camps in 1992 ran by Serbs for Bosnians images reminiscent of  Hitler’s Nazi camp, destruction of cultural property and historical landmarks; disappearances, executions and extra-judicial killings; free fire zones, genocides, hostage taking, indiscriminate attack. By far, the graphics of Sept. 11 bombing of World Trade Center as captured by CNN remains indelibly  imbedded in my subconscious but those in the book contributed by different journalists just simply  tell them The list is long and sad it to say that it is still counting.
        Incidentally, Philippines had its slice of atrocity featured in the book. One, government. general Sostheno Fernandez, a Cambodian of Filipino ancestry who rose into Chief of Armed Forces was a notorious architect of “new form of psychological warfare “ euphemism for using ethnic Vietnamese civilians as protective shields for his advancing troops into the waiting guns of the Vietcong. Second, several healthy young Filipino prisoners, used as guinea pig used to teach neophyte Japanese physicians the art of surgery  After the lesson is over, proper technique shown, patients would then be shoot by the surgeons for good.
         Living in Mindanao with all those implacable hostilities, hostage taking and terrorism happening around us right before our eyes just send us  trembling down in bone and marrow  far more than we imagine.  Add the senseless beheading by Abu Sayyaf, hostage takings of innocent  International Red Cross personnel, clergy, missionaries, teachers and innocent persons –  constitute too that war crimes against the norms and standard set by Geneva Convention in 1948 and Protocol II.  Hostage taking particularly is so pervasive and unpredictable that it has been so  rampant that it has become  sunshine industry among terrorists.  Add those senseless killings of  men in media industry and you get familiar picture of  crime against humanity. No wonder that we have dislodged Iraq as the most dangerous place in the world for any journalist..
        It’s sad that notwithstanding that those excesses happening  before our eyes,  ending those countless innocent people as additional statistics of  crimes against humanity, there’s hardly collective resolution of addressing them to avert further escalation  of hostilities. Even those related in  drug related-industry, many suspects ended up freed than prosecuted, complained by officers who apprehended them in region 10.
        It is just hoped that crimes against humanity this part of the country will soon one day will see daylight. When would that be? You maybe one that could make it happen. As John Lennon sings: I hope someday, you’ll join us and make the world will be as one.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . .

        True to the parishioners’ promise and those of his co-priests, they were able to secure the bail bond. There was joyful celebration in the convent when he and Roger were finally bailed out. The parish was able to dish out one hundred thousand pesos cash and the rest to Fr. Driarco’s glee, were all ten sacks in all courtesy of his co-priests in the diocese. Undoubtedly, the Cashier of Esperanza had her day full counting thousands of coins.
        Among those who attended Fr. Driarco’s and Rene’s celebration was Roger who has grown bigger sporting long hair. He was told a very special friend had an urgent message for him.
        “How you’ve been? I’m sorry I’m a bit disoriented  . . . ,” said the priest extending his hand.
        “Been fine and sorry leaving the convent without a word. Confidential . . . . Would share to you when able . . . .”
        “And who was that guy acted as witness to my case . . . clean shaven one,” clarified the priest. Roger was taken aback.
        “Hmm I’m  very sorry and I regret to inform you that  . . . .”
        “You’re double . . . .”
        “Got it and more than that,”
        “My twin actually . . . .”
        “My oh my and that explains all the mess in your parish. The good mayor just did it to you even at the extent of buying the participation of innocent people  holding himself in power liquidating those people barring his way. “
        “And making sure  putting people behind bars if need whoever they are concocting all those evidences..

        “Seems indeed there’s urgency of matter . . . . “ said the priest enlightened but shaking his head as if taking away the cobwebs out from his mind.
        “You’re right. And please do him  a favor now.” Roger whispered fidgeting him to go right away.
        “In your study room, he’s there . . . .” Roger told the good priest hurriedly complied with.
         It’s Ka Mario. The visitor speak right away before he could open his mouth.
        “You must  leave immediately this convent Fr. A plot awaits on you,” the visitor confided shocking the priest.
        “Oplan Kasiyahan, that’s what they call, hatched by the Wolves, a joint military-civilian organization out to deliver the goods  to whom they are due. Their specialties are salvaging and extrajudicial killing. The operatives were plucked out from different places. They don’t mind their target. They don’t know them anyway. But they have your picture!”
        “Who could have provided him . . . ?” the poor priest reflected for a moment.
        “You’ve been in their OB. That’s what matter. And they would not go home until they brought home the bacon. Your head no less! They’ve been head hunting you and better confusing their presence now.  Anything will happen.”
        “Guess who their godfather is. Big Brother no less and their counterparts – Brown shirts spread  just everywhere. The Governor or the Mayor of course is  his top gun here in the province who else?”
        “Why me?” the priest ventured.
        “You’ve been bugged sorry . . . . Let’s go.”
        “ The order came from the top. They could not just operate you know without the godfather’s blessing.”
        “What’s all this . . . !”
        “Maybe all for power and money, why not. Please know time is of  the essence. If you don’t have any more question . . . . “
        The visitor said as the priest rummaged important belongings and documents his hands could get setting all the rest  on fire to leave no further traces of evidence..
        “They’re in government payroll receiving fat salary of course. Think of the dirtiest job they’re doing for the President.”
        “Hired mercenaries you mean!”
        “Not ordinary ones definitely but specialists in their own trade. Yours is a choice in fact depending on the deal. They could kill you anywhere and anytime. That’s how they do it. You probably wonder all those senseless killings – murder, cold-blooded ones but done in secrecy and conspiracy happening around. That’s their handwork, their mark of work ethics. Again all these were done with the imprimatur and blessings of the Big Bro”
        Fr. Driarco was astounded listening the revelation. It was like small pieces are falling into their place relating  to all  spate of killings lately from left, right and center? No limit for as long as they are enemies of the state or are promising pretenders and trouble makers of the government.
        The nasty thought including his father and Mang Tonio, hyphenated priests, church workers and the rest sent again shiver down his spine.
        “The Mayor then and his men delivering the dirty work were just accomplices.”
        “That including  people working with me in the church . . . .” the priest thought tying the pieces together.  Tough revelation here thinking of how Jojo, Abel, Roger and their parents sold him to Big Brother counterpart in the province.
        “What now of Rene as the guy is most unlikely far from suspicion,” he was disturbed for the first time.
        “Is he a bug? If so could hold the key of solving the mystery for all those mess in the province . . . .”
        “Problem however is, he’s part of the team and would in fact be joining with them seeking refuge for safety somewhere. But how sure is he that doesn’t provide their whereabouts to Big Bro and thus end their participation to Nationalist struggle for democracy.” Important thought doubly disturbing him.
        “Twenty four hours operation. Must be very tough work really,” Ka Mario opined broke the silence.
        “Tough operation?” the priest nodded.
        “You’re right. You could even request or demand a head of your enemy from them as proof that they could really deliver the goods. Not only that you could also select which place you’d like other bodies or parts of it in case if the target is one individual to dump. We should be ready now. We have still barely ten minutes left to save our neck from this place. Be still, the parishioners on the right wing has also been alarmed. Roger probably finished narrating to them how the WOLVES operate killing at will their clients without any trace.”
        There was no doubt Ka Mario was telling the truth, Fr. Driarco thought otherwise, he and Rene would have not surreptitiously came down from the hills and joined all this fun. Why not after all, the rebels have also their own deep penetration agents in the military, a job reserved only to selected few  artists in the same way the military had in clearing area of operation destroying the sting of their offensive spree against the rebels.
        Hurriedly, he took everything his two hands could hold on – books, cassocks, surplice, shorts, sandals and several money from his vault. At least, he and Rene should be out from the convent before darkness would engulf them.
         At exactly seven in the evening, the convent was jolted rocked by violent explosion.
Looking back, Driarco sighed and though his heart revolted just maintained his sanity thanking Ka Mario for the effort of saving and of Rene’s  lives. All the while, he thought that freed from Sta. Rita’s prison cell would provide him ample time of lobbying his cause together with his counsel outside the court only to be surprised anew of heavier crime against the government this time. Sedition. To his knowledge, he was merely practicing what the Church teaches him to do i.e. serving the people specially the poor and the marginalized. True that he has been resolved pursuing his cause against the evil Mayor but never igniting let alone, causing the people to raise up arms against the government.
        “ If this endless persecution would go on unabated depriving me of any breathing space to breath, then I might as well follow where my heart goes,” his avowed promise practically changing the course of his life.
             “Better to act fast now or event might overtake us faster than what we think.”
        “What do you mean. . .”
        “There’s far and serious offense they are concocting on you. . . . Sedition yes for having  transformed  making your convent haven of  leftists and communists  hatching the conspiracy against the Mayor. . . “
        “And who could have broached this highly classified information to the WOLVES.
        “Who else father?”
        “You mean any among my sacristans from  Jojo, Abel to Roger. All planted by the  Wolves?”
         “Yap. You just said it. And as you can see, even at their expense to clear doubts on their roles as eyes and ears of the Wolves.”
        “My oh my . . . .!”Fr. Driarco taking deep bated breath reeling of disbelief.
        “Don’t forget including . . . . “ Ka Mario concluded.
        All was told now leaving the innocent priest more dumbfounded than amazed.
        “Come on fast and look who’s talking to men in seven colors uniform down on the ground in front of the facade,“ Ka Mario fidgeted beckoning him to move running fast on the standby  vehicle that would take them to a beach nearby to awaiting speedboat braving the big waves for  survival and safety in  Mindoro.
        “Rene!” Fr. Driarco mumbled as he hurriedly follow Ka Mario negotiating downstairs away for his freedom.
        “Don’t worry Father, we are leaving the convent without a trace. I have my men there left securing you from the wolves on loose for your capture. Trust me.” the leader said slipping away by from the dragnet set by the brown shirts.
. . . . . . . . . .

        Fr. Driarco could only sigh deep bated breath anew  as he walked through forest of Mindoro. That  after flying in a helicopter  that  rescued them from speedboat that almost capsized intercepted by the Wolves in the sea.
        “The war just started Rev. Fr.,” Ka Mario said smiling to get the stress out from his guest.
        “Don’t worry you are safe. Our organization has an antidote of what the Wolves has in store for you,”
        “Why even bother me. . . .  as I’m doing my job for my people in  the church.”
        “Because you mess out Lakay Apo’s  desires . . . validating your inclusion in the Order of Battle.”
            The young priest could only heave a sigh moving his head of disbelief. 
             Few hour’s rest more would be enough for their second leg of journey.  Where it would be, the new immigrant don’t have any idea yet. But it would be Mindanao, the proverbial Land of Promise.
. . . . . . . . . . .

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