Evelio Javier

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Evelio Javier, director of Corazon Aquino's campaign in the remote province of Antique, was sitting on the lawn in front of the capital building, taking a break from a debate over contested votes in his region, when a white vehicle pulled into the driveway. Without warning, a man in a black knit ski mask leaped out and started shooting. Javier jumped up and ran. Zigzagging across the building's broad concrete plaza, he tried to escape the relentless barrage of bullets. At least one hit its mark. Javier stumbled and fell into a small fishpond. Somehow, though, the fleeing man struggled to his feet and staggered across the street. By this time, other gunmen had begun to close in. Two approached from the left. Another, brandishing a .45 pistol, appeared in front of a warehouse. Javier ducked into an alley and tried to hide behind an outhouse door. But the masked killer found his prey and finished him off with a burst of gunfire.

The toilet was owned by Leon Pe. [3] The News Today at the 20th anniversary reported, "As the prostrated corpse of Javier lied on the damp cement of the comfort room, another gunman, hankering for a kill, unmasked himself and made a shrill outcry - 'Can you recognize me? Stand up and fight!' Whereupon he fired the coup de grace directed at the head..." His body had 24 bullet wounds. [3]

Time reported that many in Javier's camp blamed Pacificador for the assassination: [7]

Opposition leaders and many residents immediately claimed they knew who was behind the killing: Arturo Pacificador, a Marcos crony who is assistant majority floor leader in the National Assembly. Pacificador has operated like a warlord in Antique, wielding political patronage with his connections in the ruling party and the power he has amassed under Marcos.... He won his seat in the National Assembly by beating Javier in one of the most controversial campaigns of the 1984 election. On the eve of the voting, seven Javier supporters were killed during a shoot-out with Pacificador and his followers. The Ministry of Justice investigated, but never released its findings.

On the day of his burial in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique, thousands of mourners followed his funeral procession to the cemetery wearing yellow shirts with yellow bands tied to their wrists. [3] They played his favorite song, "The Impossible Dream", during the procession to the cemetery. [3] Thousands of Antiquenos there showed their anger and sorrow by crying "Justice for Evelio! We love you!" on the day of his death.[ citation needed ]

Murder Case

After Javier's assassination, his family filed charges against his political opponent, Arturo Pacificador, while the Ministry of Justice filed charges against the gunmen. By October 1986, the accusation consisted of 19 people; two noteworthy ones were Javier’s rival Pacificador, and Avelino Javellana, his lawyer. [8] Of these 19, at the time only 6 were apprehended and all others were at large including both Pacifador and Javellana. [8] Two of the apprehended, Romeo Nagalese and Jose Delumen, had confessed to the crime and Nagalase was discharged to be used as witness. In May 1989, Javellana was arrested, but on his pleas of health and safety was not held in Antique jail, but to be followed by two police escorts to Iloilo Mission Hospital. However, before they could be transferred, the two police officers were recalled by an unforeseen emergency and was instead escorted by the Provinvial Probation Officer of Antique. [8] One of the apprehended Oscar Tianzon pleaded not guilty and Javellana requested right of bail, however opposition was made based on that charges of murder are not given the right of bail if evidence is strong. Tianzon was requested to be discharged as witness as he acted as lookout for the murder and the petition for bail was delayed until this could be resolved. The request was denied and Javellana’s right of bail was ruled as:

Men gathered in the streets days after Javier's death that helped in the start of the People Power Revolution Eveliojavierprotest.jpg
Men gathered in the streets days after Javier's death that helped in the start of the People Power Revolution

"The court searched the records for evidence to corroborate the material points in the aforesaid testimony of Tianzon against Javellana but found none to corroborate his statement pointing to Javellana as the gun supplier and the plotter. Neither has the prosecution presented evidence during the hearing to determine Tianzon's qualification tending to corroborate the implication of Javellana nor did the prosecution indicate to the court where such corroboration can be found by the court." [8]

Further showing the presiding judge was biased towards the accused was that despite allowing Nagales to be discharged he was not used as witness to two other defendants and their cases were dismissed. [8] The trials were suspended in 1989 when the presiding judge was accused of partiality and the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order. Petitions were made to resume the trials but these were denied in that light of the events of people power that it has become moot and academic. [9] During this time Javellana was placed under house arrest under Atty. Deogracias del Rosario. In 1995, Pacificador had resurfaced and was detained. Pacificador as well had petitioned for bail and was granted so in 1996. [10] As with above this judge had ignored the witnesses claims and even Pacificador’s own admission to being in the ambush site. In the 2000s, trials were once again opened for both of them, but these trials were once again suspended when Pacificador accused the judge of being biased against them. [11] In 2004, the Antique Regional Trial Court acquitted Pacificador and three co-accused. However, Javellana and the others were convicted. [12]

Subsequent People Power Revolution

The assassination of Javier fueled the People Power Revolution that happened weeks later on February 22, 1986, which ousted Ferdinand Marcos and made Corazon Aquino the President of the Philippines. [4] Javier's body processed through Manila, passing Ateneo de Manila University, where he had thousands of friends and colleagues, days before the revolution.

Legacy

The day of his assassination is now marked as Governor Evelio B. Javier Day and is a special non-working public holiday in the provinces of Antique, Aklan, Capiz, and Iloilo, the four provinces on Panay island. [13]

In September 1986, Supreme Court Associate Justice Isagani Cruz wrote about Javier at the end of his decision in Javier vs. COMELEC:

Let us first say these meager words in tribute to a fallen hero who was struck down in the vigor of his youth because he dared to speak against tyranny. Where many kept a meekly silence for fear of retaliation and still others feigned and fawned in hopes of safety and even reward, he chose to fight. He was not afraid. Money did not tempt him. Threats did not daunt him. Power did not awe him. His was a singular and all-exacting obsession: the return of freedom to his country. And though he fought not in the barricades of war amid the sound and smoke of shot and shell, he was a soldier nonetheless, fighting valiantly for the liberties of his people against the enemies of his race, unfortunately, of his race too, who would impose upon the land a perpetual night of dark enslavement. He did not see the breaking of dawn, sad to say, but in the very real sense Evelio B. Javier made that dawn draw nearer because he was, like Saul and Jonathan, "swifter than eagles and stronger than lions." [2] [5]

An airport, Evelio Javier Airport, in San Jose, Antique, was named in honor of Javier.

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References

Evelio Javier
Eveliojavierportrait.jpg
A portrait of Evelio Javier
Governor of Antique
In office
December 30, 1971 January 30, 1980
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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Evelio B. Javier, Utopia Batch 1965". The Fraternal Order of Utopia. 2011-11-03. Archived from the original on 27 June 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 "Evelio B. Javier: 20th year of tribute to heroism". The News Today. February 3, 2006. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  4. 1 2 Palisada, Stanley (11 February 2011). "Remembering Evelio Javier". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 Javier v. COMELEC , retrieved 2020-02-11
  6. An Eyewitness History: People Power, The Philippine Revolution of 1986. Manila, Philippines: James B. Reuter, S.J., Foundation. 1986. pp. 78–79.
  7. 1 2 "Gangland Politics". Time magazine. February 24, 1986. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 "G.R. No. 89591-96 August 13, 1990". Lawphil. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  9. "G.R. Nos. L-68379-81 September 22, 1986". Lawphil. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  10. "G.R. No. 129120 July 2, 1999". Lawphil. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  11. "Whether the trial of Arturo Pacificador on charges of having murdered former Antique Governor Evelio Javier took place as scheduled on 23 to 25 May 2001". RefWorld. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  12. "Pacificador, once most powerful in Antique, dead". Inquirer. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  13. An Act Declaring February 11 of Each Year Governor Evelio B. Javier Day, A Special Non-Working Public Holiday in the Provinces of Antique, Capiz, Aklan and Iloilo, June 3, 1992, retrieved 2008-06-16