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Press Statement

3 February 2001

ESTRADA IS MASTERMIND OF ASSASSINATION PLOT

By Jose Maria Sison

NDFP Chief Political Consultant

 

Since the third quarter of last year, I have been aware of an assassination plot against my person. This plot has been fully operationalized since May 2000. It is ongoing. It has not been stopped by those most responsible for it despite the change of government in Manila.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines has collected its information about the assassination plot, its mastermind, tactical planners and ground operatives.

The mastermind of the assassination plot is no less than Joseph Ejercito Estrada. Upon advice of General Panfilo Lacson, he directed TESDA official Romulo Kintanar to serve as the chief project officer of the assassination plot and to prepare the operational plan together with Arturo Tabara and Nilo de la Cruz of the RPA-ABB.

To "perfect" the plan, General Lacson and then PNP chief intelligence officer General Yarcia brainstormed with Kintanar, Tabara, Nilo de la Cruz and others. Money was probably disbursed from the PNP and ISAFP intelligence funds for the implementation of the operational plan.

Under the cover of his private placement agency, which monopolizes the placement of TESDA trainees for overseas work, Kintanar made a trip to the Netherlands early last year to prepare the intelligence work on my whereabouts. In May last year, the assassination team assembled in the Netherlands.

Kintanar, Tabara and de la Cruz are military intelligence assets of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP). It is highly probable that then ISAFP commanding general Jose Calimlim is involved in the assassination plot, especially because an active army soldier is a member of the hit team.

In one drinking session last year, Estrada and Kintanar were boasting to other people in the room that I was already in a box (nakakahon) and that it was a matter of time that I would be finished (matotodas na). They talked openly about the assassination plot.

Our information comes not only from the arrogant and loose talk at the top level of Mr. Estrada. Far more solid information comes from the level of operatives, that consist of a monitoring team, the hit team and a handful of Filipino residents in the Netherlands.

From May to December 2000, the five-man hit team was headed by Joey Mortera, alias Redford and Nana, who was also the chief triggerman. Others in the team were the backup triggerman provided by Arturo Tabara, a soldier supplied by a general and two Filipino residents in the Netherlands who had the role of lookouts.

The hit team wasted several months grumbling about the poor intelligence provided by the so-called monitoring team, going to the nightspots under the pretext of looking for me there and ultimately trying to do surveillance work in a sweeping way until the team decided to concentrate on conducting surveillance on the NDFP International Office in Utrecht.

An assassination attempt was slated to be carried out in October. But this was fouled up reportedly by the arrest and detention of the backup triggerman by the Dutch police in an earlier separate incident.

The hit team floundered until December when once more it made a last desperate assassination attempt. But I did not appear at the spot where I had been anticipated.

Joey Mortera and other operatives were recalled to Manila sometime in December. But a monitoring team has continued to conduct surveillance on me, despite the change of government in the Philippines. Some members also belong to the hit team as lookouts.

Because of the difficulties and ineffectiveness of Mortera, a second hit team was formed by Kintanar as early as November. This team, with a new set of principal and secondary triggermen, was supposed to leave Manila early this year and assassinate me in February or March.

We have been anticipating this team to walk into a trap on my birthday, February 8 or some other occasion in February or March. But the expose of the assassination plot by Col. Reynaldo Berroya came on January 31, 2001 in a radio interview with DZBBs Mike Enriquez. Consequently, we have decided to further expose the assassination plot in the mass media.

Solid or indelible evidence can be established from the paper trail of the operatives. This includes the passports, visa applications and plane passenger listing of the operatives from the Philippines, the credit card used by at least one operative in his real name and the arrest and detention of another operative in the Netherlands.

My lawyers are now in the process of consolidating the evidence and gathering more information. In due course, I shall be able to divulge more information.

In my opinion, Col. Berroya made his expose with the honest intention of holding Estrada and company responsible and preempting the possible embarrassment of the Macapagal-Arroyo government were I to be assassinated after the fall of Estrada.

In this regard, I expect the Manila authorities to cooperate with my lawyers in investigating the grave threat to my life and in fully uncovering the paper trail of Estradas operatives. I also demand that Estrada cancel his orders to Romulo Kintanar and recall all the operatives immediately.

The operatives themselves should decide to quit and denounce Estrada and Romulo Kintanar because if their hit job were accomplished they would be deepsixed by the mastermind and would have no chance of collecting the final payment for the job.

Drunken with both power and alcohol, Estrada was careless about paper trails, in using bank accounts as well as in deploying assassins in cross-border operations. #





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