Cebu News

Reporter recalls first and last interview: The jail or the grave - Jaguar

Bryner L. Diaz - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Celebrating father's day yesterday was different than in the past for Rowena Capistrano, Banat News correspondent and radio dyRF reporter. This year, her father is no longer around. She prayed for him, and also for suspected drug lord Jeffrey Otom Diaz alias Jaguar, who was slain during a police operation Friday night.

Diaz days ago granted Capistrano an exclusive interview, where he expressed his intention to give himself up even though there is no pending complaint against him.

"Nag-offer ko'g prayer para niya ug iyang kauban, labi na karon father's day ug usa sad siya ka amahan," Capistrano said.

She still could not forget Diaz's facial expressions during her interview, which happened to be the first and the last.

Being a journalist, it was a dream interview, having heard of Diaz's name so many times. When she did meet him, she told him: "Kahibawo ka sir dream kaayo nako nga ma-interview tika."

After being notified a day before the interview, she prayed hard so that she may ask the right questions, get the right answers from Diaz, and have a safe trip.

"Nag-travel ko akong dala tapot lawas, usa lang ka t-shirt og karsones. I offered prayers ana nga night to travel safely along the way nga walay kakulian," Capistrano said.

"Kung pangutan-on nako kinsa iyang protector, kinsang mga tawhana, kinsang mga tawhana ang nagpaluyo nimo, no comment gyud siya," she added.

Bound by journalism ethics, all she could do was ask the questions and respect her source if he does not want to speak or give the answers she hoped to get.

"Naay ko pangutana niya nga 'no comment' siya… dili na lang nako palawman. Iyang giingon nga willing siya nga mo-surrender, willing siya mopakita ug mo-cooperate sa police," she added.

Diaz had reiterated that he stopped his illegal activities a year ago.

"Ingon siya wala na gyud siya, dili na gyud siya mobalik. Niana siya 'kay kun dili mapriso minteryo and padulngan,' ang rason sa iyang pag-undang iyang anak ug pamilya," Capistrano said.

She remembered at the end of the interview Diaz telling her she would be the first to know if he would already surrender and to whom. It, therefore, came as a shock that the person with whom she talked to barely a week ago has been killed in an encounter with the Regional Intelligence Division 7 operatives and Las Piñas police.

She learned of Diaz's death through Cebu City Mayor-elect Tomas Osmeña's Facebook page post. She said she could hardly sleep having learned that Diaz died. Memories of the interview flashed back.

She could see Diaz crying in front of her and his words "kun dili mapriso minteryo and padulngan".

"Pagbasa nako didto na ko nakakita sa post… wala ko nag-expect ing-ato kadali.  Wala ko katulog ato," she added.

Sadly, that exclusive interview led her to experience bullying by colleagues in the media industry and by the public.

There were those, she said, who even asked how many kilos of shabu she got for giving Diaz the opportunity to be heard. Others even asked her to disclose the place where the interview was held. But having sworn full confidentiality to Diaz, in observance of media ethical standards, she ignored them.

She said she never judged Diaz, as her job was to deliver his story to the people.

"Along sa akong interview niya nakaingon ko nga kitang tanan masalaypon man gyud, makasasala.  Who are we to judge? He deserves nga mahatagan og second chance," she said.

"Si Jaguar kun namatay man siya at least nakapangayo siya og pasaylo," she added.

Asked if she did not feel fear after learning that Diaz was killed, she said she would just pray and continue doing her job.

"Dili na lang ta mosulod sa media kun motalaw ta; dili na lang ta mopadayag sa kamatuoran. Ampo lang ta sa Ginoo," she said.  (FREEMAN)

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