Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in the July 16, 2008 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.

I had a rather interesting conversation with a friend last Monday. It started when I asked if he had noticed that our club’s peaceful and friendly verandah was suddenly filled with so many military types in civilian clothes.

He answered casually, “Oh, they’re Raymund Fortun’s security detail.”

“Fortun needs bodyguards?” I asked.

“Now he does,” my friend replied.

Raymond Fortun is the lawyer who charged Homobono Adaza and several “active, retired or discharged officers of the AFP with having committed the crimes of Conspiring and Proposing to Commit Coup d’Etat and Estafa.”  His affidavit can be accessed through his blog, www. raymond42n.multiply.com

I knew my friend was quite close to Fortun—as a matter of fact he was taking a cigarette break from a meeting with him—so I tried to find out if he knew anything behind the Adaza  headlines.

“I find it curious that the PNP is investigating the case and the military is not at all concerned about the coup allegation,” I asked.

He replied, “Well, that’s what I told Archie (Fortun’s nickname) I asked him why no one was interested in the second group of coup plotters that Adaza said he was trying to preempt.”

“And?” I asked.

“Well, he said no one really gave it much thought because the whole thing smelled of extortion from the get go,” my friend replied.

“But how did Fortun get involved in this whole thing?” I asked.

“Apparently, some Japanese investors had set-up a dummy corporation for an investment in a resort in Marinduque. The Japanese began to have doubts about their front so they wanted them replaced, but it was proving difficult. Consequently, the manager of the Japanese group suggested a two-pronged approach to the problem: a lawyer and, at the same time, some muscle. The lawyer was Fortun, and the muscle was OMT Security Services Inc.,” he replied.

To make a long story short, the Japanese group, Atty. Fortun, and the OMT group discussed legal and “persuasive” steps to get the company back to its rightful owners. It was during one of these meetings that things turned weird.

Fortun’s affidavit reads, “ 13. On 1st July, 2008, Col. Mapalo (OMT group) texted me that he needed to meet up with me on an urgent matter. I agreed to meet at 5pm at Bo’s Coffee, Glorietta 4, Makati City. I was surprised when we were joined by Atty. Adaza and Col. Tapia. In this meeting, Atty. Adaza told me that OMT was going to concentrate on the big project, ie. the coup d’etat. He said that the overthrow of the Arroyo government was “imminent”, and that there were actually two (2) groups that were poised to stage a coup d’etat. Atty. Adaza, however, told me that the other group was with the presence of high- powered personalities, and that politics would again rule if this other group would conduct the overthrow ahead of the OMT Group. Hence, he apologized and told me that the OMT Group was compelled to demand Mr. Sakuma and his investors to produce US$4 Million otherwise they would murder Mssrs. Copon and Galdo  (the front men for the Japanese investors) and ‘turn him (Sakura) in.’”

My friend added that the group also threatened to kill Fortun. That’s why he decided to call a senator for advice. Unfortunately, the senator offered none.

Fortun called another senator, and he immediately set up a meeting with the CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.)  An entrapment operation was planned and executed successfully.

I have mixed feelings about Adaza’s politics, but for all his shortcomings and, sometimes, strange actuations, I never imagined him an extortionist. But then again, I keep thinking “four million dollars can buy a lot of things but it won’t buy a coup.”

“How many generals and colonels will four million dollars buy?” I asked my friend.

“Well, you have a point. I guess it was just an attempted extortion,” he replied dejectedly.

I felt sorry for my friend because he and I see conspiracies everywhere; he more than me.

And so we parted and left it at that until I got stuck in traffic and started thinking about the four million dollars again. And then it hit me.

I called up my friend, “Four million dollars can buy you a lot of assassinations! Could that be it?”

“You made my day, bro!” he exclaimed.