Letters from Bubby Dacer


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The recent civil case ruling in the US that awards damages to the family of murdered publicist Bubby Dacer calls to mind letters he wrote many years ago

(Editor’s Note: This story was first published in January 2001 by Newsbreak. Rappler is reposting it in light of the recent ruling in the United States that awards damages to the family of murdered publicist Bubby Dacer. A court in North Carolina has ordered former police official Michael Ray Aquino to pay Dacer’s daughters US$4.2 million in damages. Aquino was the former aide of then Philippine National Police chief and present rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson. The US-based Dacer daughters used the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), which allows American courts to hear cases of human rights abuses filed by non-citizens against officials of a foreign government for abuses committed anywhere.)

MANILA, Philippines – Sabina Dacer joined the crowd at EDSA last January 19, the day the Estrada government collapsed. But there was no trace of celebration in her smile. Her presence that day reminded everyone who knew her of a question that still needed to be asked: Is her father, Salvador “Bubby” P. Dacer, still alive? Who abducted him two months ago? Why?

Since Dacer and his driver disappeared last November 24, police authorities have yet to uncover leads that could help them identify their kidnappers or even determine if the two are still alive. Dacer’s Toyota Revo was found on a hill in Maragondon, Cavite, about a week after his abduction. There were no traces of Dacer’s personal belongings in the abandoned car, including his cell phone and two leather attaché cases where he kept confidential files.

The Dacer family is still clueless about who was behind his disappearance and what motivated it. Why would anyone think of doing harm to him? No stranger to controversy, the 63-year-old Dacer had a mixed bag of clients: politicians, cops and soldiers, businessmen, bureaucrats, and many others. He did PR jobs for the guilty as well as for the innocent. He gave advice to two ex-presidents: Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada and their political parties. Sabina recalls that her father’s office papers filled up 4 vans when these were transferred to the Dacer residence after his disappearance.

Dacer’s PR career reached its peak under the Ramos government. He got connected to Ramos through his (Dacer’s) friend and fellow Bicolano, retired General Jose Almonte, a key adviser to the ex-president. When Joseph Estrada became president in 1998, many doubted if Dacer could establish links with the new president, given the PR executive’s close association with Ramos. But he did. Sabina explains that Estrada and Dacer have known each other since their younger years, even before Estrada became mayor of San Juan.

In fact, days before Dacer disappeared, he went to Malacañang upon the invitation of then President Estrada. The meeting was brokered by Representative Luis Asistio, whose nephew is married to Dacer’s youngest daughter, Ampy. The Dacer daughters claim that their father was reluctant to meet with Estrada but that Asistio insisted. The meeting was meant to patch things up between Estrada and Dacer.

Speculations were rife at that time that the Estrada camp felt betrayed by Dacer, who once worked with them in the first year of the Estrada presidency. What fueled speculations was that Dacer was on his way to a meeting with Estrada’s nemesis, former President Ramos, when he was abducted by unidentified men in Manila.

What exactly was the relationship of Dacer with Estrada and Ramos? What issues did the PR executive handle in the 24 months before he disappeared? Newsbreak was able to obtain some of Dacer’s letters that give an indication of what he had been through. Newsbreak obtained these from Almonte, who is a very close friend of Dacer.

The PR executive always furnished Almonte copies of his important letters. We’re publishing these to remember an unsolved crime. The Dacers’ search for justice continues, even under this new celebratory period referred to as the “Gloria Euphoria.”

– Rappler.com

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