Flash of Grace.
Dante’s crusade against heinous crime is not just an advocacy; it is a way of life. For it came to him as a thunderbolt --- a defining moment as it was of Saul on his way to conquer Damascus.
Says he in Profile of a Crusader: “From the day I held Boboy’s body in my arms with blood and brain tissues oozing from his head caused by a bullet that pierced through his brain, I have become a different Dante Jimenez.”
20 December 1990. His brother Boboy was a 31-year old marine engineer and naval architect;
advocate of children and workers’ welfare. A bullet dropped him, fired by goons hired by a Las Pinas drug queen mistaking Boboy for a weasel on her obnoxious trade.
Seven days comatose, yet Boboy knew his family was at bedside --- in tears as the world bubbles with Christmas cheers. Two more deaths followed: that of his father while speaking at a school event; then his Lola Maria three months after, broken-hearted.
The Warrior Within.
But fact is, Jimenez did not become another Dante because of the tragedies. Instead, these unchained the warrior in the shy and scrawny boy living in the Navy barracks at Plaza Militar, Malate. There decades back, he defended his friend Boy Nicanor aka Tulo Laway against a huge bully named Boy Negro. “My friend and I went home nursing bruises in the head and face. I suffered a cut on my left eyebrow,“ recalls Dante.
This incident bookmarks his psyche, “judge me not for what I have done but for what I have fought for.”And fought he did against moguls of crime. Against Ka Mameng (Maxima Asuncion Cristobal), a protégée of Don Pepe (Pepe Oyson), the overlord. There was no letting up until the gunmen of Boboy were jailed, Carlito Aguilar in 1994 and Ernesto Mendoza in 1998.
A Common Front.
He synergized with relations of other victims through CAV, Crusade Against Violence founded by its chair, Atty. Romulo Villa (whose son, Leni, died from brutal hazing at Ateneo Univerty). CAV roster looked like a police blotter: the Hultmans (daughter Maureen with Jussi Leino and John Chapman all shot dead by son of former Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee), the Villas, the Bernabes (Beebom-Conchise kidnap-murder), Vizconde (family raped and murdered) the Maguans (death in a traffic altercation)
the Jimenezes, plus some.
CAV used publicity to awaken the nation on the intensity of crimes and the weakness of our criminal justice system. CAV plodded on and with the glare of mass media, both Justice Department and the Supreme Court decreed to finish each heinous crime within 90 days on Special Courts. Congress also returned in 1994 capital punishment repealed under Cory Aquino’s term.
CAV had two major effects: pressures on the criminal justice system to prioritize heinous crimes and a stern warning there is CAV that means business --- a partner of Government in crime fighting that cannot be cajoled, bribed nor intimidated.
CAV to VACC.
Jimenez experience with presidential task forces validated his suspicions that increasing crime is connected with corruption prevalent, nay almost ingrained, in the system. Thus, CAV leveled-up to VACC, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption on 30 July 1998.
Core organizers include Vizconde, Cory Quirino (kidnap victim), Levi and Alice Vinculado (son Albert killed by a mayor’s bodyguard), Attys. Jose Calida and Benjamin E. Paggao and others in various fields seeking to neutralize the impact of “victimization.”
Jimenez waded deeper into murky waters with VACC on the PhP40-million illegal recruitment of Matias and Ruth Domiquil victimizing some 600 OFW applicants. He also honed in on two plunder cases against Dominga Manalili, BIR Region 7, for Php66-million and Php193-million.
There’s Mayor Eduardo Roquero of San Jose, Bulacan scam of Php35-thousand diverted from a waiting shed. Peanuts by itself but billions when sifted nationwide and the impact it will send, VACC contends.
As its crown jewel, VACC filed the plunder case against President Estrada for Php130-million diverted from tobacco excise tax of Ilocos Sur. Lawyers of CLEAR and CLAMOR filed similar cases and history was made.
Crusading is essentially Dante, starting ala Man from La Mancha but morphing as Super Hero. In 1993 as Philippine Association of Maritime Institutions (PAMI) president, he introduced several reforms that enriched maritime education and improved the quality of seafarers in our merchant marine industry.
It seems preparatory for in 1994, the industry was on the verge of collapse due to conflicting government ordinances. Jimenez organized the Multi-sectoral Task Force to Save the Seafaring Industry from a rainbow coalition of academe, shipping firms and builders, seafarers, and more. Midstream stakeholders blocked powerful opportunists tailor-fitting ordinances to serve their vested interests.At the face-off, politics and protectionism buoyed the manipulators but lost wind gradually against the inspired task force.
Jimenez, high school editor-in-chief of the Malate Echo and AB-Journalism degree from UST, inks his pen with columns “VACC” at Kabayan broadsheet and “Krusada” at Pilipino Star Ngayon and People’s Tonight tabloids.
He hosted a talkshow at GNN cable television and now co-anchors a week-end radio broadcast on maritime issues.
Where Justice Due.
Dante’s sensibilities are reflected on his concerns, samplings:
More On His Plate.
Dante wrote on the grenade carnage at Winnie Danao’s birthday party in La Union; the kidnap of 9-year old Willy “Junjun” Garpen by his guardian, Rubirosa Pastrana of Tondo; the armed robbery of a bus in broad daylight at busy Buendia, Makati with neither police nor Marines in the vicinity; and many more, all seeking action and closure by our criminal justice system.
Win-some, lose-some was it all? Or just antics like the gazillion coins for the Supreme Court fine to needlefor somber and objective decision?
The jury is out VACC is extremely successful in its methods: 1) “Sympathy-extending” approach by sharing the grief of the survivors and relatives; 2)”Court-watch” by attending hearings and watching eagle-eyed the minutest infractions/accommodations and 3) “Jail-watch” where members visit jails to validate the convicts are not given special treatment (and worse, like the killers of Boboy released on faked “official” papers).
Jimenez is a pillar of the maritime industry - a leader, educator and innovator. Even if he was a Navyman, he shifted his students from N-ROTC to PCG-ROTC, the first in the country. He says it is ripe to support the Coast Guard, primarily in search and rescue operations given more than 20 typhoons rage annually in our archipelago.
More recently, he is involved in political dynamics, not the partisan kind of himself getting elected. He is a prime mover of Bicol Autonomy Movement, a Region 5 group of academe, business and civil executives and clergy seeking a regional charter to fast-tract progress in Bicol. It even boldly endorses the wish-list of Muslim activists for autonomous governance of a defined Bangsamoro constituency.
Jimenez Bicol Reform has already drafted a Charter, collated and scrutinized by experts in various disciplines. They want changes now, within the purview of the current Constitution to avoid waiting for a highly politicized and partisan Charter change.
May Your Tribe Increase.
In a matrix, Dante is clearly a transformative leader, focused in his vision yet open to societal priorities.He does not apologize for his personal bias (i.e. justice for his brother, Boboy) but pliable and open to demands of events, to resources at hand.
We are privileged to feature Dante as a Tirad Pass exemplar. It seems deja vu recall of wisdom from his book, “…there are still concerned people who despite their setbacks remain steadfast…in their fight for justice. They are like the legendary bamboo tree – firm but resilient. I call those who choose to struggle… the emerging modern heroes of today.”
Marino World calls them Dante La. Jimenez.
Bicol Autonomy Movement
It is a group of like-minded Bicolanos, coming from the 6-provinces of the Region with a Secretariat Office at Mariners’ Polytechnic Colleges Foundation, Rawis, Legazpi City, pushing for the establishment of a Bicol Autonomous Government for Region V
Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption