Remembering Noel

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014


I WAS about to write my column yesterday afternoon when S/Supt. Erson Digal, chief of the operations and plans division of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 called me up and informed me about the ambush on lawyer Noel Archival and his companions in Dalaguete town. I immediately instructed the dySS newsroom to call the Dalaguete police station and Chief Insp. Rico Emperoa, its police chief, for confirmation.

Archival was on board his black Ford Escape with plate number YGE 240 together with his driver, Candido Miñoza, and aides Paulo Cortes and Alejandro Jayme. They were bound for Cebu City from Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental after attending a court hearing.

Upon reaching Barangay Coro in Dalaguete, a red Hilux vehicle overtook Archival’s group. The persons inside it then fired at them. Archival and Minoza were killed on the spot while Jayme and Cortes were brought to a private hospital in Dalaguete and later transferred to a hospital in Cebu City. They were in critical condition.

Barangay Coro is a coastal area. It was in the same place where the cadaver of Alona Bacolod-Ecleo, wife of Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) supreme master Ruben Ecleo Jr. was dumped years ago. Archival was Ecleo's legal counsel after he was convicted of parricide for the killing of Alona.

Noel was a friend. He was a funny and jolly person. I came to know him in the late ‘80s when he was still a law student in Southwestern University. After graduating from his law degree and while reviewing for the Bar exam, he worked at the Alvarez, Silva and Ouano law office.

I got to know him there because one of the law partners, Deolito Alvarez, is my close friend. We used to have drinking sessions and debated on certain issues. I was still with Bombo Radyo at that time.

When the result of the Bar exams was released (I forgot the year), I read on air the names of those who passed. Noel called me up to ask if he passed. I told him he did, but he wasn’t contented with that.

He rushed to our station along Borromeo St. and went inside the announcer's booth. He grabbed the faxed copy of the master list and went to the nearby pharmacy where a photocopier was available, unmindful of the traffic. A PUJ driver shouted at him, “Hoy, kun mag-suicide ka ayaw mi iangin.”

Kun naligsan pa to siya, mao unta ni ang headline: “Bag-ong abogado naligsan, patay.”

Noel was the lawyer of the mastermind in the ambush of two Japanese nationals in Banilad a few years ago. The hired killer was arrested by the police in a follow-up operation. During my radio interview, the hired killer admitted that he was paid by the mastermind to kill the two foreigners because of a business problem. The prosecution used a recording of that interview as evidence.

I was summoned to appear before the sala of Judge Olegario Sarmiento (now retired) as prosecution witness. After the direct examination by prosecutor Daphne Degame, Judge Sarmiento asked Noel if he would cross-examine me. He answered, “No your honor. Who am I to cross-examine the number one radio commentator in Cebu?”

When his client was convicted, Noel told reporters that Judge Sarmiento was afraid of me as prosecution witness.

One morning when I reported for work, Noel called me through cellular phone. He told me that if a boy comes to the station to complain against him, I should not attack him. I asked him, what was the matter? He said that he placed the boy in his car's baggage compartment because the boy vandalized the vehicle.

May pagkasiaw gyud to si Noel.

I heard many things about his brand of lawyering. Some of his clients were controversial. But whatever the motive of his killing was, I hope that authorities will look deep into the case for the sake of justice. Noel does not deserve to die.

May his soul rest in peace.

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 19, 2014.

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