Ateneo De Naga high school 1980

Those who do not remember history are bound to live through it again.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The galant stand of a woman against crime.

February 24, 2011

I had been following the news about the three Filipinos in China that had been condemned to death by lethal injection for committing the crime of transporting drugs in China. This story occupies the front pages of newspapers and prime time news telecasts around the Philippines. Millions are praying for hope that the lives of the condemned will be spared.

This case reminded me of a sensational case that happened when I was a young child back in 1967.The young and beautiful actress, Maggie De La Riva was abducted and raped by four men. These men were Jaime Jose, Basilio “Boy” Pineda Jr., Eduardo Aquino and Rogelio Canal.

Magdalena “Maggie” De La Riva was born in 1942 and graduated high school at Maryknoll College (now Miriam college) in 1958. She obtained a secretarial degree in 1960 at Saint Theresa’s college. She became a finalist at the 1962 Miss Caltex beauty contest. Maggie first appeared as a background extra in the 1963 TV show, “The Big Show” where she was serenaded by Ruben Tagalog. She later became the lead actress in the stage play “Cat on a Tin Roof in 1964 and also had a radio program at DZRC Manila called “Pakikipagtipan Kay Maggie Dela Riva”. In 1964, she became Miss Lucky Centavo.

In 1964, Maggie’s father, Juan De La Riva, died at age 58. This made Maggie the breadwinner of the family. Her mother, Pilar Torrente De La Riva, managed their house and supported the needs of her daughter.

Maggie Dela Riva was then doing very well in her career as a movie actress. She was being paid P8,000 Philippine pesos per movie, P800 per month on permanent radio and television performances, P300 per month on live promotional shows and P100 to P200 per guest appearance on other shows. During the 1960’s, these amounts were considered quite hefty and so Miss Dela Riva was earning quite well.

Eduardo Aquino is the son of a lawyer-accountant from Calaca, Batangas and was a second year journalism student. He resided at 172 Mayon street in Quezon city. Rogelio Canal is the son of a retired school principal, a native of Bacolod city and resided at Palanan street, Santa Mesa, Manila. Jaime Jose is the son of physician from Guagua, Pampanga. He was a combo player and resided at 21 Kalatagan, Makati, Rizal. Basilio Pineda is a son of a former Pasay City police chief. Basilio has two children and resided at Makati, Rizal.

(In writing this article, I elected to omit the details of the crime that was committed against Miss De La Riva to avoid reliving the horrors of that horrible event)

According to the statement given by Jaime Jose to the police, Boy Pineda, Eddie Aquino and Rogelio Canal went to his house in Makati to borrow his red Pontiac convertible car at around 11am on June 25, 1967. Jaime did not want to lend his car without him being in the group and so he decided to tag along.

The group went to Ulog Cocktail lounge located along A. Mabini street in Ermita where they had several rounds of drinks until 3:30am the following day. While they were drinking, Pineda shared to the group that he was in love with the movie actress, Maggie De La Riva. According to Jose, Pineda knew that Miss De La Riva has a video taping session that morning at ABS Studio.

From Ulog, the group went to ABS studio located at Roxas boulevard in Pasay City where Pineda and Rogelio tried to talk to Miss De La Riva. Not knowing the group of men, Miss De La Riva ignored them and drove off in her car along with her maid, Elena Calderon. The four men decided to follow Miss De La Riva’s car which was heading to her house located at no. 48 12th street in New Manila. The time then was around 4:30am. Miss De La Riva was about to reach her house when the car being driven by the four men drove next to her car and tried to bump it. She stepped on her brakes and swerved to avoid collision. When Miss De La Riva stopped her car, she was already in front of the gate of her house. Being annoyed, she shouted, “Ano ba?!”

Pineda jumped out of their car, opened the door of Maggie’s car and pulled her left arm. Maggie tried to held on to the steering wheel but Pineda was able to pull her out of her car. The maid went out of the car and grabbed Maggie’s right arm and tried to pull her off from Pineda. The three other men inside the Pontiac assisted Pineda in getting Maggie inside the Pontiac and they sped off towards Broadway Street. The maid was left behind.

Pineda and his group took Maggie to Swanky Hotel in Pasay City and committed the atrocious crime of rape. The four men then drove in front of the Free Press building not far from EDSA near channel 5. They wanted to make it appear that Maggie just came from the studio. They also decided to flag down a taxi from a less known company called UBL Taxicab so that they could load Maggie in it. The driver of the cab that the men flagged down was Miguel F. Campos. When Maggie finally got inside the cab, she broke down and kept on asking the driver if there is a car following them. The driver told her that there was none. At 6:30am that day, the cab reach Maggie’s residence and several PC, police officers and reporters were there.

On June 29, 1967, Miss De La Riva, along with her lawyer, Regina O. Benitez and members of her family, went to Quezon City police headquarters and filed a complain.

At around 2pm that day, Jose was spotted walking along Buendia avenue while reading a Daily Mirror newspaper that had the headline about the rape of Miss De La Riva. Jose was nabbed by detectives Pablo Pascual and Ricardo Aniceto who were disguised as ice cream vendors. Jose tried to escape by running away but another detective named Reynaldo Roldan, who was armed with a Thompson submachinegun, blocked Jose’s escape.

While Maggie was at the police headquarters, she heard about Jaime Jose’s arrest. That evening, Maggie returned to the police headquarters. When Jose saw Maggie, he stood up and said, “Maggie, Maggie, please…..Hindi ako kasama. Magsabi ka nang tutuo” (I am not one of them. Tell the truth). Maggie just stonily stared at Jose, sat down and cried. After a while, Maggie stood up and tried to scratch Jose’s face but failed. She then said, “You, you were one of the boys that pulled my legs and raped me!” Jose’s face went pale. He turned to the wall and cried.

After learning that Jose had been arrested, Aquino, Pineda and Canial became frantic and met together somewhere in Pasay city. They drove Jose’s Mercedez Benz to San Miguel, Bulacan to loose any law enforcement that were tracking them down. From Bulacan, the three men drove back to Manila, passing through Pasay City and then drove to Batangas. They checked-in at the Samson Ponti rest house in Lipa city using fictitious names. When the men had their supper at a restaurant in Lipa City, they were recognized by a waitress who had read about the De La Riva case in the newspaper. The waitress notified the local police. The following day, the three men transferred to another house owned by a Manila City official located in Katipunan street in Lipa city. A team of law enforcement officers lead by Detective Restituto Vinas joined up with members of the Lipa Police department and surrounded the house where the fugitives were hiding. The combined police force slipped into the backyard of the house and entered through the kitchen door. They arrested Canial and Pineda in the living room.

Aquino was able to escape by driving their Mercedez Benz to barrio Santa Rita in Taal. Law Enforcement tried to track down Aquino in Taal but was not able to locate him. Aquino later surrendered to Mrs. Aurelia Leviste, the wife of the governor of Batangas.

The four men were sent to Muntinlupa National Penitentiary while their appeals were being heard. While in prison, they met an American missionary named Olga Robertson. She resided outside the Muntinlupa jail and devoted most of her time in prison ministry. Olga visited the three condemned men and request that they memorized the bible verse John 14:6 in which Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”. Three months later, she visited the men again but she discovered that they were no longer interested in spiritual things. But Olga was determined to save the souls of the men. She returned the day before their scheduled execution. Aquino quickly recited John 14:6. Jaime Jose was faint with grief and fear. On execution day, Olga brought other inmates who sang hymns of praise to encourage the three condemned men. Olga believes that the three men went from the executioners chair into the arms of their Savior. Aquino triumphantly said, “Lord Jesus, I give you my life and no one can take it from me”.

In December 28, 1970, Rogelio Canal , died from overdose of drugs while still in prison. On February 6, 1971, the supreme court found the remaining three men guilty and sentence to death by electric chair. Each of them were also ordered to pay P10,000 plus each has to pay ¼ of the cost. (I am assuming that the cost here refers to the court cost).

The following are the memoirs written by Basil Carating who was one of the news photographers of Philippines Herald newspaper in 1972. I decided to keep the structure of Mr. Carating’s narrative close to its original form to show respect to the writer. The changes that I made were very minimal which, in my opinion, did not alter the style of the writer.

One Photographer, One Camera, One Lens, One Last Frame, One Last Chance.

The year was 1972. I was walking on air..., actually I was walking along Plaza Lawton. I bounced up and down the yellow brick road with my NIKON FTN hanging around my neck and holding a still warm laminated card that boldly said PRESS. I felt like this was the culmination of a dream! Yes, I just came from the editorial offices of the Philippines Herald where 30 minutes earlier, the editor, Oscar Villadolid, offered me his hand and said "Welcome aboard kiddo". I am a freshly minted photojournalist! I felt invincible! First priority was to let my dad know and my new girlfriend Connie know-in which order I didn't really care.

I ended up catching a bus to Muntinlupa where I lived inside the bilibid prisons reservation where my dad was the head honcho. My dad greeted me with "I know, I know, they just called. They want you back in there" he gave me a congratulatory hug and said" Go on son, you promised me a Pulitzer" In a meeting with the editorial board I was told that I will be part of the herald team that will cover the execution of the three remaining convicted rapists of actress Maggie dela Riva. The Herald is sending 4 veteran reporters and 5 veteran photographers plus myself. I was told that, as a resident of the new Bilibid prisons reservation and the fact that my dad was the NBP superintendent, my job was to guide these guys to the best vantage points and use my dad's position to gain access to areas where other reporters will not be able to go. I said to myself "Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence”. I never felt so inadequate and wretched in my life, I will be a tour guide in this first biggest gig of my budding career. I started wondering if they hired me for the fact that could I offer The Herald an unfair advantage over the other dailies.

A day before the actual execution, hundreds of reporters, TV people and photographers descended upon that quaint little place with all their equipment ready for the next day's "event" (if you can call executing 3 people that). They were camped out on the golf course in front of the main building. It was a spectacle, a fiesta!. I said to myself I can't be part of this- I am going for the “kill”. I am going for "THE" shot! At 9 pm I made myself disappear without telling anybody. I walked 2 kilometers to the back of the prison-to the actual death chamber. I knew that the three convicts were being held in the holding cells attached to the death chamber and I snuck up behind the guard and settled in a recessed 2 ft x 2 ft area behind some wooden pallets in what I thought was total darkness. About two minutes had passed when I realized that I was about 6 ft directly across a cell and a figure moved inside. He stood behind and held the bars and OUR EYES MET!! It was BASILIO PINEDA!! I almost wet my pants!! Here I was in the middle of the night, in the death chamber where hundreds of people had been executed had just locked eyes with one who will be executed in the next few hours! Added to that is a giant monitor lizard (a good 4 feet) pacing up and down like an expectant father 3 inches from my nose. I WANTED TO DIE!!

Basilio Pineda did not attempt to make conversation and I was debating if I should. I just kept quiet. I checked my Nikon-meter if it was working. I blew a breathed on my lens (a 50mm 1.4) and wiped the moist off with my shirt. I checked the film counter and it read 35. (There are only 36 shots per film) I reached for my camera bag to grab a fresh roll of film and to my horror, I found nothing! I forgot to bring an extra roll of film! Now I really wanted to slit my wrist! How could I go through all this trouble with one frame left in my camera?

I spent the next 6 or 7 hours hating and cursing myself and rubbing my eyes with calamansi so I wouldn't doze off and miss "THE SHOT" at daybreak, I heard the guard talking to a female- I aimed my camera at the blank wall and engaged my built in light meter. I was using a notoriously slow plus x pan 100 ASA. My light meter gave me a reading of 1.4 at 15th of a second. I thought that the reading was too slow and so I decided to go for 125th of a second and just get the darkroom technician to push the process. I cannot blow this one because I have only one chance. But before I could touch the speed dial, I looked up and right before my eyes is THE MOST INTENSE, MOST GUT-WRENCHING SCENE THAT I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED!! Basilio Pineda's sister just walked up to the front of the bars and brother and sister hugged and both wailed. I was shaking and for a split second could not react. I was crying too and by some stroke of luck, pressed the shutter button. Several days after this photograph which was captioned “ A BROTHER'S FAREWELL”, appeared on the front page of the Philippines Herald, I was still receiving heaps and heaps of accolades and commendations from press associations around the world. The international press institute called it TREMENDOUS!!. THE HERALD gave it such prominence that it almost occupied the whole page of the broadsheet and one of the editors told me that the only other photograph that he remembered occupying such prominence on the herald's front page was a picture of the allied forces liberation of Manila.

More narratives regarding: A Brother's Farewell My Own Personal Pulitzer Prize

I omitted a lot of interesting details to shorten the backgrounder. I must have stayed near Basilio’s cell for a good 7 hours. Basilio Pineda did motion to me once asking if I had some cigarettes. I just shook my head. Then at one instance, the guard walked by and pulled out a pack of smokes and handed a stick to Pineda. As he was walking away, he called the guard and asked for another stick. The guard silently obliged. What beats me though to this very day is why he didn't tell the guard that there was someone hiding right in front of his holding cell.

In all of those seven hours, Basilio was standing right close to the bars trying to make eye contact with me. This was the part that scared the daylights out of me and I just about gave up. I was cold, nauseous, hungry, thirsty and everything around me felt surreal. Then came the embrace. I thought I was just going to pass out. As they hugged, they both at the same time let out a loud wail. Not just a cry but a very loud wail that echoed through the early morning calm. surreal..

In a separate narrative, Basil Caranting wrote:

Probably because of excitement and inexperience, I went on a "predictive mode" when I settled in that little hiding place of mine. I scripted out different scenarios in my mind, i.e. a guy cracking and screaming not wanting to go with guards at the last minute, a guy literally being carried and restrained, with hands flailing, a guy looking up crying and tearfully asking for forgiveness, a guy's reaction after receiving the last call of reprieve from the president etc. etc. but never this most touching and most gut-wrenching scene that suddenly played out right in front of me. Like I said, I froze when confronted with this scene that was so surreal for one single photographer standing right in front of it. It's not like I was jockeying for position with a hundred other photographers-then it would have been more realistic!

When brother and sister hugged, they let out the loudest wail that to me, almost sounded like pigs being slaughtered. I found myself crying too, a situation that my mother cautioned me about. She said there will be moments that would attach me to my subject involuntarily because I am human first and photojournalist second. Did I press that button to capture the decisive moment? Having one last frame ( I found out later that I actually had two) did not help my situation. I will confess right now that after that scene, there were a couple of other scenes that was as touching or maybe more touching than this one- Oh well, no use crying over spilt milk!
In the actual chamber about 4 hours later, where the electric chair was, reporters piled in. I was wondering why everybody was allowed in. I guess I can't complain now because I stood there too and, listen to this, I stood about 4 feet away from the chair. I swear I saw someone with a camera and he snapped a shot while one of the three condemned men (I couldn't remember which) was being electrocuted. When Basilio Pineda was ushered in by four guards and the priest, Father Dacuycuy, our eyes met again. I knew in an instant that he recognized me as the idiot who kept him company before this moment. I gently bowed my head and clasped my hands in a sign almost saying to him "be brave". I expected him to smile at least but he didn't. I guess he had more important things in his mind at that juncture.

When Jaime Jose, the most famous among the four men, was strapped on to the chair and his face was covered with a leather mask and his bare feet made to rest on a wet block of quarry stone (adobe), he looked very scared, the only one of the 3. After the director of prisons read the sentence and the chief engineer confirmed that everything was in order, three guards pulled down three switches of which only one is the live switch. Everybody in that chamber witnessed how a human body contorts when 2000 volts of electricity is coursed through it. There was smell of burning flesh. When the initial shock was over, the duty doctor approached the chair and with his sphygmomanometer examined the body. He shook his head and in a loud voice proclaimed “SIR, THE CONDEMNED MAN IS STILL ALIVE!" There was silent mumbling from the crowd of reporters right away. I knew that some were whispering that Jaime Jose should be let go if he didn't die from the initial shock. I knew that some of them were discussing this scenario the previous night. But simply, the sentence was by electric chair-UNTIL DEAD. So I heard the director of prisons say “CHIEF OF ENGINEERS, GIVE THE CONDEMNED MAN ANOTHER SHOCK”

Manila Times newspaper published this report on their May 18, 1972 edition:

Three anesthesiologists--- Drs. Ricardo de Vera, Leonida Panopio and Bautista Placino--- administered to the three doomed men. The three convicts were transferred from the prison hospital to the anteroom of the death chamber at midnight yesterday. There they were kept company by weeping relatives. At 7 a.m., the death sentence was read to them, after which they had breakfast of fried chicken, bread and coffee. Except for the request that their heads be shaven at 10 a.m. instead of the usual right after breakfast, the prisoners’ only other request was for some friends in the death row to be brought to them. This request, however, was not granted, because of a near-riot earlier in the day.

For lunch, their last meal, the prisoners had kare-kare, chicken tinola, lobsters, crispy pata, lechon, fried lapu-lapu, and ice cream. Jose hardly touched the food, although a sister dutifully spoon-fed him. Pineda ate his meal with his estranged wife, sisters and other relatives Aquino tried to cheer up his mother by offering her food and hugging her. While the convicts and their relatives prayed at about 1 p.m., inmates in the nearby cells started singing Cursillo songs and praying aloud.

Then, at about 3 p.m., silence descended on the whole prison compound and nothing was heard except the plaintive song from a convict in some cell. “Mama, I’ll miss the days when you were here beside me…” Inside the execution chamber, the death sentence handed by then Judge Lourdes San Diego of the Quezon City court of first instance, the Supreme Court decision and the final presidential reprieve for 60 days was read in succession by General Raval. The general then turned to the justice department’s representative in the room to ask if there was any word from the President. Told that there was none, he ordered the first prisoner to be brought in.

A pale and dazed Jose was the first to walk the final steps to the execution chamber. He had just recovered from shock and had to be placed under sedation. His eyes stared blankly and unseeing as he walked between two priests with lips repeating their prayers. Among those who witnessed his final moments was his father, Dr. Jose Jose. The doctor, who had promised his son that he would be there, stood beside Brig. Gen. Vicente Raval, the prisons director, during the execution. He stepped out of the execution chamber when his son was pronounced dead at 3:20 p.m. Following the order set down in the Supreme Court decision, Pineda came next. He had a minor hassle with prison guards when, owing to a slight confusion, they started to lead Aquino to the death chamber ahead of him. He was strapped into the chair at 3:40 p.m. and pronounced dead at 3:55.Aquino came last. He died at 4:10 p.m. While he was in the death chamber his mother, who had been keeping him company since morning fainted into the arms of her eight other children Doctors who attended to the three doomed men were Drs. Gervacia Mata, Zoraida Ocampo and Aurelio Alcantara for Jose; Avelina Alcantara, Ester Cordero and Luz Alma Santos for Pineda; and Argente Alejandrino, Luz Enriquez and Avelina Alacantara forAquino.

Other Manila Times News articles:
Fr. Hermenegildo Angeles told news reporters that the last message that Aquino wanted to tell the youth was, “Avoid bad companions and obey your parents”. Fr. Angeles said that Aquino appeared to be repentant and resigned to die in the electric chair.....
Jose’s mother, Maria Dolores Gomez, was not able be with her son during the last few hours of his life because she was at Malacanang hoping to talk to President Marcos. The mother waited at the Malacanang reception hall for five hours starting from 9:30am hoping to get clemency for her son from President Marcos. She waited along with a nun who is the aunt of her son. Fifteen minutes before 3pm, which is the scheduled execution of the three condemned men, Mrs. Jose was informed by assistant executive secretary Roberto Reyes and Presidential assistant Juan Tavera that the president had already left Malacanang and is presumed to have returned to the presidential yacht. Mrs. Jose broke down and told the officials that she went to Malacanang because she was advised by one of the prison officials. The Malacanang officials told her that the president had been busy meeting with congressmen because the palace celebrated Congressman’s day the previous day. They also added that Mrs. Jose did not have any appointment with the president and so he was not able to accommodate her. According to some reports, President Marcos was never told that Mrs. Jose was waiting for him at Malacanang.....

The execution of the three men was originally scheduled for March 17, 1972 but it was suspended when Marcos ordered a 60-day reprieve......

On May 17, 1972 at 1:45pm, (75 minutes before the execution), Pineda received an overseas call from his sister Lucille who is in Oakland, California. It is assumed that the sister wanted to be with her brother but Pineda was heard saying, “Huwag na. Huli na, huli na" (No more. It is too late)......
About the judge:

Near Kamias street in Cubao, Quezon city, there is a street named Justice Lourdes Paredes San Diego. The current generation does not recognize the name but Justice San Diego was a well known judge back in her day. Justice San Diego was known to handle tough decisions on prominent court cases. When Maggie De La Riva filed a case against her rapists, Justice San Diego handed down the death penalty to the men.

Justice San Diego never believed in the death penalty. But when she was asked by her daughter, radio icon Jo San Diego, why she meted it out to the rapists of Miss De La Riva, Justice San Diego answered, “Hija, in the Philippine law, rape is punishable by death”.

Decades after the incident, Maggie De La Riva was asked about her ordeal. She answered:

“When that misfortune happened to me, I realized that although my body was raped, my true self was never defiled and that there is another person in me that is beautiful, strong and true. The old Maggie has faded away. I look at my experience as something that happened to someone else who is no longer the person I am today”.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this complete and precise write up. I never even knew the actress nor the fiasco but I am so very glad that justice was served with finality and proved that though rich, one cannot get away from such behaviour. I admire Maggie for having the balls to stand up and follow through and thus netting the culprits what they deserve. It should be a precedent for other women to follow!

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story has really affected me. I know that rape is wrong and that it can have a profound effect on a woman, but to take 3 (4) lives in this way, to me is nothing short of murder. It is evil. I don't believe in capital punishment, but if there is any justification, then it should only be for deliberately taking someone's life. Not for rape, drug smuggling, etc.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hats off indeed to Maggie dela Riva. Her rape occurred when the treatment, mentality, and attitude when it came to women were not as they are today.

Critic can assail that the men were executed because the victim was prominent. Point well-taken. Yet, she still needed to amass the strength to fight.

7:19 PM  
Blogger kagbalete said...

They should have used the guillotine.....

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those idiots and all like them who have defiled women in all instances of history, have committed a violation on women (the same species as the women who bore them) and taken something from them that can never be returned. So, it is only fitting that their lives should be forfeit. Please, pro-life advocates, spare me your misplace, bleeding heart stories.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A woman brought you into this world, so you have no right to disrespect one.


8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:51 AM  
Anonymous Neil Saunders said...

The death penalty is always evil, but here it was wildly disproportionate. The young men's crime was vile, and they should have served long prison terms. There is no justice in a dictatorship like that of Marcos.

7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be fair with Marcos, he was only upholding the law.

6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be fair with Marcos, he was only upholding the law in this particular case.

6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please bring back the death penalty in the Philippines. Death Penalty now!

4:35 PM  

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