1st in 65 years: Napoles’ presidential surrender

Rappler.com
Janet Napoles is the first Filipino since 1948 to have been given the privilege of surrendering to the President

SPECIAL TREATMENT?: Janet Lim Napoles surrenders to President Aquino. Malacañang photo

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) –  How many fugitives have been given the privilege to surrender to a Philippine president? None in more than half a century until Wednesday night, August 28, when the suspected mastermind of the pork barrel scam, Janet Lim-Napoles, surrendered to President Benigno Aquino III.

Journalists on Thursday, August 29, bombarded Malacañang with questions about the propriety of its decision to allow Napoles to step on Palace grounds and surrender to no less than the Chief Executive.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda defended the move, saying there have been instances in the past when fugitives surrendered or met with the Philippine president after being taken into custody.

But the unique case of alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim Napoles is the first one in 65 long years. Not only was she allowed to enter the seat of power, the President himself went to Camp Crame Wednesday night to make sure that her “detention facility” was arranged by the Philippine National Police. (Lacierda said Napoles feared for her safety thus her choice to surrender to the President.)

list released by Malacañang Thursday cites 4 cases of surrenders to Philippine presidents. But two of the cases cited in the list do not involve fugitives linked to scams; they involve men who mounted rebellions and granted amnesty.

The list states the following:

  • Nicolas Encollado: On Jan 17, 1936, Encollado, a “bandit,” surrendered to Tayabas Gov Maximo Rodriguez; the next day, he was brought to Malacañang to meet with then President Manuel L. Quezon, who gave him parole “under the condition that he secure the surrender of his sons and other followers.”
  • Teodoro Asedillo: On Jan 20, 1936, Asedillo, another “bandit,” surrendered and was brought to Malacañang to meet with Quezon. He promised the president to return within 3 days accompanied by his sons and followers.
  • Luis Taruc: The Hukbalahap Supremo surrendered twice, under the administration of two presidents: Elpidio Quirino and Ramon Magsaysay. His first surrender, under the Quirino administration, took place June 22, 1948, after the President issued an amnesty proclamation covering Huk leaders and followers. This triggered peace talks between the government and the Huk rebels.

When talks collapsed August that year, Taruc went back to the hills. In 1954, under the Magsaysay administration, he surrendered after 4 months of negotiations. He surrendered personally to Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr, then a reporter for the Manila Times.

  • Gregorio Honasan: Honasan, who was then one of the leaders of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), met with Defense Secretary Renato de Villa on Dec 24, 1992 – a meeting triggered by the establishment of the National Unification Commission (NUC) under the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos. This led to the release of 43 rebel officers and the RAM surrendering 9 stolen light antitank weapons.

Discrepancies

The list has at least 3 major discrepancies.

In the case of Taruc, he surrendered to the government, but not personally to Magsaysay.

The briefer even said: “Aquino was originally supposed to have brought Taruc directly to President Magsaysay on the presidential yacht; however, Col. Napoleon Valeriano, chief of Presidential Security, informed him to bring Taruc to the Armed Forces instead.”

Taruc was thus brought to Manila, where he was later tried in court for terrorism and inciting a rebellion. He was later sentenced to 12 years in jail.

Honasan, on the other hand, told Rappler in a phone interview Thursday that he never surrendered to Ramos or met with him in 1992.

Honasan, now a senator, also explained he was no longer a fugitive at that time, recalling that they were given safe-conduct passes by the government as a result of a peace agreement between the government and the rebel soldiers.

Also on his Facebook post, Ed Tadem, a professor of Asian Studies at the University of the Philippines wrote: “Teodoro Asedillo was a school teacher, labor organizer, and revolutionary leader who led a rebellion against US imperialism in the 1930s. He never surrendered and was killed in an encounter with puppet Constabulary troops in Laguna. To liken outstanding Filipino heroes like these two to a modern-day low-life arch criminal reveals an ethical deficit and moral bankruptcy beyond repair.”

With this, Napoles becomes the first person since 1948 to have surrendered to the country’s top leader. – with reports from KD Suarez/Rappler.com

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