A Thug Runs Out of Luck in Manila

After a gunfight in the exclusive Blue Ridge subdivision in Metro Manila, National Bureau of Investigation agents have arrested Jason Aguilar-Ivler, a Filipino-American and nephew of Filipino folk music star Freddie Aguilar who has allegedly remained on the run for weeks with the help of highly-placed members of Filipino society and police officials.

Ivler is accused of killing the son of a high government official last November in a road rage incident. Ivler apparently was critically wounded in the gunfight, as were two NBI agents. He had been in hiding since November after he allegedly gunned down Renato Victor Ebarle Jr, the son of Undersecretary Renato Ebarle Sr., who works in the Office of the Presidential Chief of Staff. According to witnesses, the younger Ebarle was chased down and shot after an argument allegedly because his car was in Ivler’s way.

After murder charges were filed against Ivler, his photograph and details were distributed to all ports and airports to prevent him from escaping. He was described as "armed and dangerous." In the gun battle, police said, Ivler was hit in the stomach, chest, shoulder and leg and was being treated at the Quirino Memorial Medical Center, where he was said to be in stable condition. NBI agents Anna Labao and Angelito Magno were also wounded, Labao hit in the chest and Magno in the thigh.

Ivler until now has led a privileged life of the kind that happens in Manila. He is the stepson of Stephen Pollard, a British economist with the Asian Development Bank who with his wife, Marlene Aguilar, is accused of sheltering the 28-year-old from a police manhunt in the wake of Ebarle’s shooting. The car Ivler was using when he allegedly shot Ebarle bore diplomatic plates traced to Pollard, who married Marlene Aguilar, Freddie Agular’s sister, and took on Ivler, Marlene's son from a previous marriage.

"It's a part of a bigger story on why people get away with murder in my beloved country," said a Manila source. "It's been this way for as long as I can remember and it's largely due to culture and a poor justice system. It actually reminds me so much of Latin-American countries. There have been exceptions in the past - when it's the good guys running the case, then there is justice, but it does take a very long time."

Ivler was already wanted on charges of "reckless imprudence resulting in homicide" stemming from 2004 when, on holiday from Hawaiian Pacific University in Hawaii, he reportedly lost control of his vehicle, a Toyota Land Cruiser which also bore diplomatic plates belonging to his stepfather, and slammed into a car owned by Nestor Ponce Jr. Ponce, a presidential assistant for resettlement, was on his way with his family to the suburban community of Tagaytay for a religious gathering. Ponce was killed although his wife and driver survived.

Ivler was arrested in 2004 following the killing of Ponce while trying to flee to Malaysia in the company of a police colonel said to be his uncle, and a chief inspector, according to reports. However, he later jumped bail, officials said. For six years, he was not rearrested on the homicide charge.

In a radio interview, the senior Ebarle demanded that investigators seek to find out how Ivler’s mother, stepfather and uncle helped the suspect evade authorities. He also alleged that Ivler has an uncle in the national police who helped his nephew escape arrest on other charges.

"I think this colonel should be investigated for giving aid and comfort to a fugitive," Ebarle said.

Read the rest of this article at Asian Correspondent.