For the first time, the legal issues surrounding murdered New Zealand expat Simon Rawlinson can be revealed.
The 63-year-old was gunned down on Wednesday (July 26) in Naval, on the island of Biliran.
Two men, the suspected gunman and lookout, have been arrested, while the motorcycle driver is still at large.
Following a comment on the PLN website, we revealed that Mr Rawlinson — the third foreigner to be shot dead on the island in recent times — had been embroiled in a protracted dispute with local government figures.
PLN can now exclusively publish a letter sent by Mr Rawlinson to the Ombudsman for the Visayas in May, which describes his legal disputes and the friction between him and local government figures.
While there is no evidence that any of these issues were related to his assassination, the letter paints a poignant picture of a man finding himself apparently shunned and despised by his local community.
In it, he counters a number of allegations against him, including that he “hurled” a stone, “boxed” a boy and splashed him with chlorine, “barricaded” a barangay road and was a “transient”. Using highly legalistic language, and citing international law, he refutes these accusations.
He also takes issue with a decision to declare him “persona non grata” and have him “ousted” by police. Again, citing international law such as the ‘Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations’, he argues that this is unlawful.
The letter also shines a light on how his relations with village officials had deteriorated beyond repair.
On one occasion, he clashed with a barangay councillor over the installation of a fence on his property. The encounter ends with the official telling him to “go home to New Zealand”.
On another occasion, he clashed with the barangay captain while moving stones on the beach, which he says was “belated” clean-up work following Cyclone Yolanda. This encounter culminates with the captain telling him to “get fucked”.
The letter also reveals that local authorities had circulated a petition containing allegations against Mr Rawlinson, which had been signed by many of his neighbours. Details of the petition are not known.
In conclusion, Mr Rawlinson calls for the wholesale sacking of barangay officials — whom he describes as “people of such detestable behaviour” — adding that the barangay captain should be “heavily sanctioned” as punishment.
Here Philippines Lifestyle News can exclusively reveal his letter to the regional government watchdog in full:
The Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas
Tacloban Regional Office
3/F Yuhoo Building
I, Simon John Rawlinson, 63 years old, of New Zealand nationality, resident of Barangay Bato, Maripipi Island, Biliran,
do solemnly SWEAR:
I have had Attorney XXX representing me from my first knowledge of this matter.
Through application to the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government] (as I understand it) he was proposing to place the Barangay [village] Captain and Council before the Sangguniang Bayan [municipal government – “SB”], undoubtedly in reliance on LGC, s.61 (c)
He only recently furnished me with a copy of his submissions. He informed me that waiting for a response from the DILG, was the reason for the more than 6 month delay. This action was taken by him without instruction or, indeed, my knowledge. On being handed his submissions, I informed him that the SB could not hear the case because they could not meet rules of fairness and I would therefore be placing the matter before the Ombudsman. He said I could not do that, telling me the Ombudsman did not have jurisdiction over the Barangay and that she would confirm that.
I pointed out to him in an email, referencing the relevant legislation and emphasising the wording, that there lay concurrent jurisdiction. In a following email I stated that if he had no defence to the notion of concurrent jurisdiction, my instruction to him was to prepare a complaint to the Ombudsman.
His failure to prepare a complaint (him still insisting it be put before the SB), has forced me, unfortunately, to bring this matter to the attention of the Office of the Ombudsman myself.
I have only signed one document in relation to this matter. I believe that was in regard to what is referred to as “forum shopping”.
The Municipal Council most certainly have NOT been given jurisdiction over this matter by me.
This is an ADMINISTRATIVE complaint against Maripipi Island – entire Barangay Council of Brgy Bato, the entire Municipal Council, any of Five signees from the “Ethics Committee” not on the Municipal Council, and the Mayor.
It is mostly concerning the subject matter of a Resolution the Barangay Council brought against me.
The documents, which I am unable to attach, speak for themselves. There is little I can add, except tell you what I know and what I don’t know.
THE RESOLUTION :
“Persona non grata”
The Resolution declares me “persona non grata”. I know that a declaration of “non grata” is a provision of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and, I know that it was ratified by the Philippines, therefore, I know it cannot be a feature of Philippine Domestic Law.
“ouster by the PNP”
The Resolution “resolves” that I be oustered by the PNP [Philippines National Police]. I know that by International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights I have freedom to choose where I live, and I know that by our Constitution I can be removed from that choice, SOLELY, by Court Order.
THE ALLEGATIONS (contained in the Resolution) :
“hurling a stone”
I was given no opportunity, by anyone, to defend that allegation before being found guilty. I know that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states I am entitled to a fair hearing.
“box him and splashed with Chlorine”
Again, I have been given no opportunity by anyone to defend that allegation .
In a letter to the Barangay Captain, – copy can be emailed on request – I accepted that the boy got chlorine/water mixture on him, but I informed the Captain it was merely accidental.
I did not address the “boxing” simply because I did not know anything about it. The Barangay Captain, against my protests, refused to tell me what the allegations against me were.
I should clarify ;
The boy laid a complaint with the Barangay, but withdrew it before it was heard; my letter was actually a request for a stay in the proceeding as my witness was unavailable on the scheduled date.
“barricade of Barangay road”.
The Barangay Captain was informed NUMEROUS times by me, at the time I closed my path, that it was not a Barangay road, but a path on private property that I purchased, informing him it was titled in one 7610 square meter lot.
When I asked him whether he held any documents to support his contention it was Barangay he replied, “We hold no documents whatsoever”. I then asked why then he believed it to be a Barangay road. He replied “because we put it there”.
I told him that that made it a road the Barangay put there, not a “Barangay Road”. I also informed him, given what I had told him, that he could no longer claim it to be in Barangay ownership.
Yet, that same allegation is made in the Resolution, without any reflection of a factual basis, and, again, no hearing to determine the matter.
That we are both “transients”.
I have lived in the same house for 5 years. Florida [Mr Rawlinson’s fiancée] shifted from Manila to live in that house with me for last two of those five years. She has a document, signed by the Barangay Captain confirming she is a “bonefide resident” of Barangay Bato. If Florida is deemed to be a “resident”, then I certainly must be.
Given the above, this allegation presents as malice as well.
THE COURSE OF THE BARANGAY RESOLUTION :
The Barangay Resolution informs the reader that it was forwarded to the Mayor and Sangguniang Bayan (under separate cover) seeking, inter alia, “guidance”.
A couple of weeks ago, the Mayor made a visit to my home with the request that I not pursue those who had wronged me.
At that time, I asked the Mayor whether he was aware that the Constitution stated I could only be removed by Court Order. He replied he was aware of that provision.
Therefore, I do not know why he did not provide the NECESSARY “guidance” to the Barangay OR stop the resolution when it was first placed on his desk.
I should add; when I refused the Mayor’s request, he made the veiled threat that he “could” (not would) allow the Resolution to proceed. I ended our conversation by replying “What you do Mayor is up to you, and what I do is up to me, but if you do that I WILL bring a case against you. “
I do not know why one, or more, of the Sangguniang Bayan members did not provide the NECESSARY “guidance” the Barangay requested, OR put a halt to the process themselves.
I do not know who made the decision to change the Barangay resolution to “provisional” and order it be investigated by the five who claim to have investigated it.
I have not seen the transcript of the “Ethics Committee” meeting, but I do not know how it is possible that FIVE people found a Resolution, which is neither lawful, nor constitutional, nor any of the allegations subjected to due process, nor any single allegation sustainable, to have “merit”; IT BOGGLES MY MIND.
It was around this time that the allegations, in the form of a petition, were taken around to all the adults in Bato and those persons FORCED to read them before signing (or not).
It is not known who concocted this process, nor, indeed, the reason why those allegations – actually fables – were circulated. This process presents as a deliberate attempt to damage both Florida’s and my reputation: libel.
I do not have a copy of that petition, but the Mayor informed me he has a copy, and, no doubt, the Barangay still hold the original.
It was about this time the process was stopped. Atty XXX claiming to me it was stopped by the Mayor at his insistence. (XXX is also the Mayor’s Attorney) The Mayor made the claim to me that he stopped it on his own merit.
Although Atty XXX constantly lies (I HAVE reprimanded him) I believe the evidence supports his claim.
FURTHER UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR BY THE BARANGAY CAPTAIN.
Admittedly belatedly, I have been repairing damage on the beach and my path caused by Cyclone Yolanda.
The lot I live on is beachfront, beyond the boundary, foreshore. I had two workers helping me, one shifting stones from one place to another and the other collecting stones to make concrete.
First, the Barangay Captain called my worker who was collecting, and he told him to collect the stones from “further along” the beach. There does not appear to be a valid reason for that directive.
Later he called my other worker, who was shifting, telling him that he couldn’t shift stones under Barangay ordinance.
Shortly thereafter, I visited the Barangay Captain at his house. I informed him he had no authority to give instruction to the employees of another and that if there was a problem, that needed to be addressed to the employer. I then asked him what the problem was. He said they had an “ordinance” that prevented me from shifting stones on the beach. I asked him to tell me what the ordinance stated. He could not. I asked him whether it was written in English. He said it was. I asked to see it. “next week” he said. I told him I wanted to see it right then. (my workers had refused my ‘counter barangay captain’ instructions )
The conversation ended by him telling me to “get fucked”, as he walked away.
I do not know what the Barangay Ordinance says, but, I do know that, pursuant to LGC, s.138, the provincial Governor has exclusive jurisdiction over the subject matter.
AND YET MORE……
Just recently, I was fencing the road boundary on the lot across the road from where I live that I had purchased.
Council member, Lolita Infornon made a complaint to the Barangay Captain. He accused me in front of a number of people of “stealing government land” . I informed him that , just several days previously, I had all boundary lines I intended fencing surveyed, pointing to the two new boundary markers very close to where he stood. I offered to show him a copy of the plan of that survey. He refused my offer, telling me to “go home to New Zealand” . Of course, NZ is not “home”.
He told my worker to stop working for me or he would “go to jail” with me. My worker walked off, only returning after the duty police officer, Stephen Betonio , told him by telephone he should take his instructions solely from me.
I am unaware that I have done anything wrong. Quite to the contrary, I spent PHP 20,000 on a survey TO ENSURE my fencing was in the correct place. I even checked the surveyor’s plan with plans held at the Municipal to guarantee correctness. And I also had my worker accompany the surveyor at all times so, in the event of problems , he could attest to the correct positioning of the boundary markers.
I looked up the road and said to Alan (my worker), “everyone else is allowed to fence their property, why aren’t I?”. “I don’t know” he replied questionly [sic].
SPO2 , Stephen Betonio, cell XXXXXXX, told me Council member, Jose Agumbay, frantically waved him down while driving by. He requested Stephen to stop me fencing.
Stephen told me replied “why, he is not doing anything wrong?”.
And that is the question, why can’t I shift stones on the beach and fence my property like many others do?… there is a definite PATTERN of orchestrated malicious behaviour.
WILFUL DERELICTION OF DUTY:
Shortly after my survey I went and saw the Barangay Captain and I told him I wanted to bring my neighbour before the Barangay. He asked me what it was about. I told the Captain I wanted to fence, but he had his “stuff” in the way and I wanted him to shift it. “Take it to the Court in Bongto” he said. I told him I could not do that because he had primary jurisdiction* over that matter .
He again refused to accept my request. I walked away in disgust.
*LGC, s.410 /412
NECESSARY ACTIONS ;
First and foremost, investigation needs to be undertaken to elicit the necessary information that is not known; those matters expressed in the above text under the heading, THE COURSE OF THE BARANGAY RESOLUTION. Only then can appropriate action be meted.
Notwithstanding the forgoing, I believe the requirements of Justice dictate that the Barangay Captain, the entire Barangay Council and the five who “adopted and endorsed” the proposed resolution, claiming it had “merit”, be removed from Public Office and forever forbidden from holding such position in the future.
By all means, give them a chance to have their say, but the primary evidence is overwhelming; Abuse of Public Office, Multiple deliberate breaches of the Constitution. Their removal being necessary, not for punishment, but for the protection of our fellow human beings.
Additionally, a country cannot employ people of such detestable behaviour as public servants and then expect its population to behave properly. That is neither fair, nor realistic.
A Civil Servant should present with behaviour worthy of emulation by the population, nothing less than exemplary is acceptable.
Justice also demands that the Barangay Captain not only be removed from office, but further heavily sanctioned, for punishment.
The person/s (as yet unknown) who ordered that the Barangay Resolution be sent to the five for investigation should be removed for Abuse of Public Office, Deliberate breaches of the Constitution; removal for the same reason.
The person/s (as yet unknown) who ordered that the allegations be taken around to all the adults in Barangay Bato should be removed for Abuse of Public Office, Deliberate breaches of the Constitution; removal for the same reason.
The remaining persons (if there are any) have not performed their duty to the standard required of a Civil Servant. They are probably merely guilty of Negligence. They should retain their positions, however, they should receive reprimand.
IF it was the Mayor who ordered the Barangay Resolution to be investigated, I believe the requirements of Justice dictate that he should not only be removed from office, but sanctioned to the allowable maximum, again, for punishment.
This action, initiated by the Barangay, has destroyed Florida and me as being part of this Community. Twice our gates have been smashed. We are picked on and ridiculed. Florida is adamant that we must leave. She is, of course, correct, the damage to us not being repairable.
While the Barangay may have failed to have me physically removed, through the employment of the combination of abuse, malice and libel, they have succeeded in their goal to see me outed from the community.
Simon John Rawlinson
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN before me this …………. day of May 2017
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