By By Fernan A. Gianan
The harassment incident at Ibong Sapa
posted 12-May-2019  ·  
461 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

First described by the local police as a “harassment incident”, the event that occurred in Ibong Sapa, Virac involving the family of Cong. Cesar Sarmiento last Saturday night (May 4, 2019) has been elevated into an election-related incident.

    Here’s what happened based on the police report: at 9:36 P.M. that night, taking advantage of a power interruption, more or less suspects armed with long firearms and wearing military uniforms and bonnets “forcibly entered the residence of Cong. Cesar Sarmiento” (actually the residential compound of the family of the late Gov. Severo Alcantara just opposite the congressional district office). Inside, the suspects handcuffed two guards-caretakers, Rey Vargas, 71, and John Tabios, 31, as well as tricycle driver Antonio Barba, 60.

    The armed men rushed to the receiving area and destroyed the padlock. Once inside, they proceeded to the master’s bedroom at the right wing of the second floor, destroyed the lock. Sarmiento’s grandson, nine-year old Liam Zsander Diona, and Legazpi City businessman Joseph Calleja, 33, were inside but were able to hide inside the comfort room.

    The suspects, apparently looking for something, searched the room as well as two other rooms which were unoccupied.

    In the 4th room occupied by the congressman’s wife, Stella Marie Alcantara-Sarmiento, 60, and daughter Zsarita Marie Sarmiento, 32, they to destroy the lock but failed to gain entry.

    Subsequently, they left the compound and fled towards Virac poblacion on board a maroon SUV.

    As of presstime, SOCO operatives were trying to lift fingerprints from the crime scene while Virac police probers were gathering footage from CCTV cameras along the suspect’s escape route to trace their vehicle.

*****

    Probers are looking into the possible motive behind the incident.

    Was it an attempt to steal the congressman’s vote-buying funds?

    This is the likely motive, but a hare-brained one as, by this time, any candidate who depends on buying votes to carry him to victory has either distributed most of the cash or kept them with trusted leaders in each town for safekeeping until the last hour.

    Was it a kidnap try by the congressman’s opponent on any of the Sarmiento family members? This is doubtful, as it would only elicit sympathy for Cong. Cesar from the voting public.

    It would likewise be unthinkable for the CS campaign to even consider a “harass me” incident involving his immediate family.

    It is hoped for now that this incident would not persuade the authorities to recommend that the entire province under COMELEC control, which could have the opposite effect of raising tensions.

*****

   Saturday, May 4, 2019, was the 19th death anniversary of the Catanduanes Tribune’s founding publisher, Fredeswindo Gianan Sr., who was an incumbent provincial board member for the West district when he succumbed to pancreatic cancer.

    He left his inclination towards politics to his namesake son, Atty. Fred Gianan Jr., who is running for a seat in the same district in the May 13, 2019 national and local elections. Atty. Yong, as he is fondly called, was the party’s replacement for PBM Indo and then won once before deciding to go to the Unites States for several years.

    He has since come back, surrendered his green card and devoted his time serving clients from all walks of life at his Virac law office.

    With the electorate reportedly wanting fresh faces at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan West district where three of the four seats are held by multi-term reelectionists, Atty. Fred Gianan Jr. could spring a surprise on Monday and land in the top three.

*****

THE PIANO. They left home and arrived at the airport laden with luggage, most of it hers. They managed to cart the seven suit cases, triple-deck make-up case, and five bags of hand luggage to the check-in counter, by which time the husband mournfully mumbled, “God, I wish I’d brought the piano with me!”

    “No need to be sarcastic,” she snapped.

    “No. really,” he replied, “I left the plane tickets on top of it…”


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