BY DABET CASTAÑEDA
Sitting on the front porch of his quarters at the Bonifacio Naval Station (BNS), retired Navy Capt. Julian Advincula watched from a video camera the tape that captured how members of the Philippine Marines forcibly evicted his neighbor-colleagues from their own quarters at high noon of May 20. “Tingnan mo yang ginawa nila,” he said. “Binaboy nila kami.”
Jars, piles of paper and other personal belongings littered the streets of the retired Navy officers’ village inside Fort Bonifacio. They were the only things left in what looked more like a ghost town than a community of officers and gentlemen of the Philippine Navy. Only a few of the quarters were still occupied.
Sitting on the front porch of his quarters at the Bonifacio Naval Station (BNS), retired Navy Capt. Julian Advincula watched from a video camera the tape that captured how members of the Philippine Marines forcibly evicted his neighbor-colleagues from their own quarters at high noon of May 20.
“Tingnan mo yang ginawa nila,” (Look at what they did) the retired captain said. “Binaboy nila kam.”(They treated us like pigs.)
The video was taken by Advincula’s youngest son. It showed young Marine soldiers shouting at the retired Navy officers and their families, and hauling their belongings out of the quarters.
The Philippine Navy charged the retired officers of “overstaying” in the BNS and has ordered them to vacate their quarters and make them available to those in active service.
The retired officers however said they own the land through a title obtained by their association, the Naval Officers Village Association, Inc. (NOVAI) in 1992.
The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), the government agency tasked to maintain and develop Fort Bonifacio, questioned the validity of the title but the Supreme Court has decided in favor of the NOVAI. The case is on appeal.
A life of military service
A mechanical engineer by profession, Advincula entered the Navy as a student officer in 1959. He served under five presidents and he retired with the rank of captain in 1993.
Since he was not a Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduate, Advincula was enlisted as a reserve. He became one of the few officers of the Special Warfare Group (SWG), now known as the Under Water Operations Unit whose members are trained to fight in land, sea and air. In 1988, he became commanding officer of the Cavite Naval Base, a position he held until his retirement.
Three out of six of his children followed his footsteps. His eldest daughter is a Navy veterinarian while his second to the youngest is an operations officer at the Philippine Army’s General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
His fourth child, Omar, was an army soldier killed during a firefight with Muslim rebels in Tuburan, Basilan in February 1993, a month before Advincula retired.
Advincula said his salary was P180 a month when he started as a young officer. When he retired, he was receiving P15,000 monthly. He said he and his wife, Scarlet, brought up their six children with only his Navy earnings and were able to send all of them to college.
His earnings though were not enough for them to buy a house.
“If we’re booted out of here we will have no place to go,” he said.
The Advinculas moved in at the BNS in 1991. Since then, they have made many improvements in their quarters. They built two more rooms at the back and changed the roofs and refreshed the paint several times. The porch where the interview took place was made out of the family’s earnings, he said. “Ako ang unang nagpagawa ng ganito tapus gumaya na yung ibang kapitbahay,” Advincula said.