IF I had to write a script for a movie on political violence, I could not come up with a better one than the ongoing live drama starring political bigwigs from the province of Abra. The assassination of Abra Congressman Luis Bersamin Jr. and his bodyguard outside a church — right after a wedding — last December 16 provides the slam-bang opening scene. Cut to assassins escaping on a motorcycle. Tracing the registration of the getaway vehicle leads to the arrest of one Rufino Panday, a former Army master sergeant, who identifies not only the assassins, but also the mastermind, who he says is Abra Governor Vicente Valera. Two weeks later comes the cinematic arrest of Governor Valera himself, shortly after he leaves the house of his alleged mistress at dawn. But of course there has to be a dramatic car chase first, and then there is the governor looking bug-eyed in a roomful of authorities and nosy media. Arrested with him are three bodyguards, and the police find in his new, hulking SUV an automatic assault rifle, six 45-caliber pistols, and a fragmentation grenade.
“IT WAS a little bit eerie,” Nur Misuari says, recalling that cold early morning in January 1986 when a stranger came knocking on the door of his hotel room in Madrid. On the run from the Marcos government, the chairman of the secessionist Moro National Liberation Front or MNLF was then living in Tripoli, dependent on the hospitality of the Libyan leader Muammar Khadaffi. He was in Madrid for just that night, waiting for a flight to Casablanca in Morocco, where he was to attend a meeting.