ml-museum


Jailed But Not Jaded
Volume 24 Number 1
Thursday, 12 January 2012 11:51

by Rommel Yamzon

 

“They did not simply put me behind bars.  They have denied me of living the life I chose to live.”
– Jerry Butial
“They did not simply put me behind bars.  They have denied me of living the life I chose to live.”
Jerry Butial
I will never forget the day when a former colleague informed me that Jerry Villas Butial was arrested.  He was said to be a member of the Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB) and was accused of killing Timoteo Zarcal and participating in the ambush-slay of Jose Pring.  Zarcal and Pring were both infamous police chiefs during the 1990s.  A press conference was arranged where Jerry was presented to the public through national television.  While I watched him, I could not help but wonder, why Jerry?

 

Fall Guy
I know for a fact that Jerry is not affiliated with any armed group, the ABB, in particular.  He did not have the guts to shoot anyone pointblank, even if it that person be a hard criminal.  He does not know how to use a gun and has not touched one.
Jerry was also very vocal in criticizing rebel groups, including those who believed that armed revolution is the only way to improve the political system.  He disagreed with punitive justice imposed on those perceived to be “enemies of the people”.
Several witnesses, including a former councilor of San Pascual, Batangas, have attested in court that Jerry was with them in a town fiesta in the nearby town of Alitagtag when Zarcal was killed on May 7, 1994.
The ABB issued a statement that Jerry is not one of their members.  The ABB also claimed sole responsibility for the killing of both Zarcal and Pring.  The reason behind Jerry’s arrest could have been his resolute stand to advance pro-people causes.
Dedicated Activist
I was still in college when Jerry and I were introduced to each other. I was told that we both attended the same school and were affiliated with the same student organization.  He was only a few years ahead of me.
I got to know more about him when we worked together as community organizers helping urban poor families with regard their housing problems. We occasionally met during meetings where I witnessed how Jerry sharply spoke his mind during discussions.  He had a sense of humor, but was always serious and determined in defending the rights and welfare of the marginalized.
Illegally Arrested and Tortured
On the morning of March 31, 1995, Jerry came out of the Philippine General Hospital along Taft Avenue, Manila after his regular treatment for his ailment, Bell’s palsy.  Five armed men who were later identified with the Intelligence Security Group (ISG) of the Philippine Army (PA) and Western Police District Command (WPDC) abducted him. He was blindfolded, handcuffed and brought to an unknown place.
When they reached their destination, Jerry was brought to an isolated room. He was interrogated about his personal profile and involvement in the Zarcal murder.  The questions came in between hits and slaps on his face and head.  He was told that someone in the room knew him very well and that he should not lie.  After some time, he was transferred to another room where he was made to lay down while still handcuffed behind his back.  A cloth was placed inside his mouth. Cold water was slowly poured down Jerry’s face while an electric fan switched to the highest speed was focused on him.  Jerry was being forced to admit membership to the Communist Party of the Philippines and the ABB.  His ordeal lasted for almost three hours.
On April 5, 1995, six days after Jerry’s abduction, the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame issued a statement regarding his arrest. Before Jerry was located, the police denied having him in their custody.  He was prohibited from contacting any of his relatives and no lawyer was allowed to provide him with legal counsel.
Longing for Freedom and Justice
Jerry is currently detained at the Manila Sector Extension Jail in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig. Fifteen years have passed since the case was filed against him and yet, until now, it is still being heard at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 53. The reason for this setback is due to a series of postponement and re-scheduling of court trials. I and other TFDP staff visit Jerry from time to time. I remember one occasion when I asked him how he was.  He sullenly replied, “Okey lang…malungkot pero kayang labanan… ganyan naman talaga ang gobyerno malupit sa mga taong tulad natin. Alam ko namang lalaya din ako… ang tanong lang naman ay kung kalian.”  He smiled afterward.
I hope that circumstances will soon work out in Jerry’s favor.  I look forward to meeting him outside the prison walls.  I wish that the rays of justice will soon shine over him and other victims of human rights violations.
Someday soon, may the dark clouds of political prejudice pass and the looming fog of impunity be lifted.  And hopefully, even sooner, Jerry will be welcomed back into society.
Fall Guy
I know for a fact that Jerry is not affiliated with any armed group, the ABB, in particular.  He did not have the guts to shoot anyone pointblank, even if it that person be a hard criminal.  He does not know how to use a gun and has not touched one.
Jerry was also very vocal in criticizing rebel groups, including those who believed that armed revolution is the only way to improve the political system.  He disagreed with punitive justice imposed on those perceived to be “enemies of the people”.
Several witnesses, including a former councilor of San Pascual, Batangas, have attested in court that Jerry was with them in a town fiesta in the nearby town of Alitagtag when Zarcal was killed on May 7, 1994.
The ABB issued a statement that Jerry is not one of their members.  The ABB also claimed sole responsibility for the killing of both Zarcal and Pring.  The reason behind Jerry’s arrest could have been his resolute stand to advance pro-people causes.
Dedicated Activist
I was still in college when Jerry and I were introduced to each other. I was told that we both attended the same school and were affiliated with the same student organization.  He was only a few years ahead of me.
I got to know more about him when we worked together as community organizers helping urban poor families with regard their housing problems. We occasionally met during meetings where I witnessed how Jerry sharply spoke his mind during discussions.  He had a sense of humor, but was always serious and determined in defending the rights and welfare of the marginalized.
Illegally Arrested and Tortured
On the morning of March 31, 1995, Jerry came out of the Philippine General Hospital along Taft Avenue, Manila after his regular treatment for his ailment, Bell’s palsy.  Five armed men who were later identified with the Intelligence Security Group (ISG) of the Philippine Army (PA) and Western Police District Command (WPDC) abducted him. He was blindfolded, handcuffed and brought to an unknown place.
When they reached their destination, Jerry was brought to an isolated room. He was interrogated about his personal profile and involvement in the Zarcal murder.  The questions came in between hits and slaps on his face and head.  He was told that someone in the room knew him very well and that he should not lie.  After some time, he was transferred to another room where he was made to lay down while still handcuffed behind his back.  A cloth was placed inside his mouth. Cold water was slowly poured down Jerry’s face while an electric fan switched to the highest speed was focused on him.  Jerry was being forced to admit membership to the Communist Party of the Philippines and the ABB.  His ordeal lasted for almost three hours.
On April 5, 1995, six days after Jerry’s abduction, the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame issued a statement regarding his arrest. Before Jerry was located, the police denied having him in their custody.  He was prohibited from contacting any of his relatives and no lawyer was allowed to provide him with legal counsel.
Longing for Freedom and Justice
Jerry is currently detained at the Manila Sector Extension Jail in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig. Fifteen years have passed since the case was filed against him and yet, until now, it is still being heard at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 53. The reason for this setback is due to a series of postponement and re-scheduling of court trials. I and other TFDP staff visit Jerry from time to time. I remember one occasion when I asked him how he was.  He sullenly replied, “Okey lang…malungkot pero kayang labanan… ganyan naman talaga ang gobyerno malupit sa mga taong tulad natin. Alam ko namang lalaya din ako… ang tanong lang naman ay kung kalian.”  He smiled afterward.
I hope that circumstances will soon work out in Jerry’s favor.  I look forward to meeting him outside the prison walls.  I wish that the rays of justice will soon shine over him and other victims of human rights violations.
Someday soon, may the dark clouds of political prejudice pass and the looming fog of impunity be lifted.  And hopefully, even sooner, Jerry will be welcomed back into society.

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