Justice remains elusive a year after Makati BIR director's death

MANILA, Philippines – A year after the killing of Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Regional Director Jonas Dela Peña Amora, his loved ones remain hopeful justice would still arrive no matter how long they would have to wait for it.

Ivan Amora, son of the multi-awarded BIR official, told Rappler on Wednesday, November 22, that despite the arrest of the alleged gunman Alan Manalo, "we still don't consider that justice has been served for my father."

The suspect, a resident of Batasan Hills in Quezon City, was arrested a month after the BIR director was ambushed and shot dead by riding-in-tandem assailants around 5 am last November 21, 2016 at a road corner near C-5 Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City.

Amora, the BIR regional director of the Makati City Revenue Region 8, was on his way to the Makati BIR office when the incident happened.

On Tuesday, November 21, 2017, family members, friends, relatives, and work colleagues gathered at the Loyola Garden in Marikina City to mark the first death anniversary of Amora. 

BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay and other fellow government workers described Amora as the Philippines' top revenue collector and a God-fearing, humble, and hardworking public servant.

Noted for his uncompromising character in implementing tax laws, Amora was not known to have made enemies, according to officers and members of the Anda Manila Residents Employees Association (AMREA). Amora served as the association's past president.

"His stature as a dedicated public servant backstopped by his consistent top-notch collection performance and administration of the revenue region of Quezon City spurred his appointment to manage the country's top financial and business center of Makati. He is widely known in the BIR as a dogged workhorse and at the same time a very amiable person. Amora is not known to have made enemies in and out of the BIR," the BIR said in an official statement last year.

Aside from his involvement in various religious and civic groups, Amora – who hailed from the town of Anda in Bohol – was also known by his peers as a family man, devoted to his wife and loving to his 3 children.

Amora's death happened just days after the ambush-slay of lawyer Arturo Lachica, a Bureau of Customs official who had once vowed to clean the ranks of the graft-ridden agency.

A year after

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Amora's son Ivan thanked God for giving them strength and courage "to endure all the difficulties in our life."

"We know there will be a lot of trials ahead of us, but with your guidance we know we can overcome them and attain the justice Papa deserves," he said, addressing his message to those who continue to stand with their family.

Concluding his post with the hashtag #JusticeforJonasAmora, Ivan spoke in behalf of the family and requested friends and fellow workers of his father to continue praying and seeking what he called "ever longed-for justice."

In an interview with Rappler on Wednesday, Ivan said they do not consider the capture of Manalo as an attainment of justice since the murder complaint has not even been filed by the prosecutor up to this day.

Manalo, nabbed by elements of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) after he fired his gun indiscriminately, is in jail for illegal possession of firearms and explosives. 

He became a suspect after cartographic sketches provided by witnesses matched Manalo's face profile.

According to Ivan, they are still awaiting the resolution of the murder complaint they had filed against Manalo.

Long way to go

The son disclosed they are still agonizing over their "tragic loss, and the pain remains as barely unbearable as ever."

"Masakit pa din sa amin at marami kaming gusto malaman: kung bakit pinatay si papa and kung sino ang may gawa. Hinihingi pa din namin 'yung justice na deserve sa kanya," Ivan told Rappler.

(It is still painful for us, and there are a lot of things we want to know: the reason why my father was killed, and who was behind the murder. We continue to demand the justice that he deserves.)

He added: "Medyo natatagalan nga kami sa pag-progress ng kaso dahil umabot nang 1 year wala man lang resolution 'yung finile namin kaso as of now."

(We find the progress of the case to be stalling as it has been one year since it was filed, and still no fiscal's resolution as of now.)

Following Amora's death, the Department of Finance (DOF) offered a P1-million reward for anyone who could provide a lead about the identity of the perpetrators.

The same amount was put up by the DOF as bounty for any information about Lachica's killers.

So far, the DOF has not made a public announcement on whether it has awarded the money.

QCPD created a task force to solve Amora's killing, but the latest update about the case has not been released as of November 21. – Rappler.com