Memory Hold the Door
The assassin of Col. James Rowe, the "political prisoner" Danilo Continente, is scheduled to be freed from prison on June 28th after serving his maximum sentence. Philippine President Fidel Ramos refused to pardon Continente during his term of office despite representations by 'human rights organizations'. But with his sentence served, Continente will soon be a free man. The left-leaning Philippine Daily Inquirer has started a countdown to the blessed moment.
In just nine days, Donato Continente becomes a free man. And for him, freedom means becoming a full-time father to his 6-year-old son. Continente, 43, one of two men convicted in the killing of US Army Col. James Rowe in 1989, is set to be released from the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa on June 28. Bureau of Corrections records show that he has served the maximum sentence of 16 years.
His chief regret, the Inquirer says, has been an inability to spend time with his son, conceived on a conjugal visit.
During the occasional visit, after the child had become comfortable with his father, they would spend the allotted eight hours chatting and frolicking in the prison's playground. "He would often ask me if it was really a prisoner because he couldn't see barred cells and barbed wire." ... Continente was initially convicted as a principal in the murder of Rowe, for which he was given a life sentence on Feb. 27, 1991. But upon review, the Supreme Court ruled in August 2000 that he was only an accomplice and lowered his sentence to 14 years. He was recommended for release thrice under the Ramos administration's amnesty program: In January 1993, by the Presidential Review Committee secretariat; in June 1993, by the Department of Justice, and in 1994, by the Presidential Committee for the Grant of Bail, Release on Pardon and Parole. But Continente remained behind bars, allegedly because of pressure from the US government.
The Left always kept the faith with Continente, who at the time of the murder was a staff member of the Philippine Collegian, the student newspaper of the national university, famous for its radical politics. Ever and again they clamored for his release as they are even now doing for terrorists imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. The New York Times reports:
May 29 - In the last few months, the small commercial air service to the naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has been carrying people the military authorities had hoped would never be allowed there: American lawyers. And they have been arriving in increasing numbers, providing more than a third of about 530 remaining detainees with representation in federal court. Despite considerable obstacles and expenses, other lawyers are lining up to challenge the government's detention of people the military has called enemy combatants and possible terrorists.
It's a way of sending them their love, showing that they care. And they do. Describing the treatment of terrorists confined in Guantanamo, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said:
"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control," he said, "you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings."
In contrast, Colonel Nick Rowe's fate has always been to be forgotten, though he didn't seem to resent it. When Rowe was held captive as a POW in Vietnam, during which he suffered from dysentary, beri-beri and fungal attack -- diseases unknown in Durbin's Guantanamo -- he protected his fellow prisoners by concealing his identity as a Special Forces Officer, which if revealed would single them out for special cruelty. His deception worked for months. But the Left did not forget.
Acting on a request from the North Vietnamese, students in a so-called anti-war organization in the United States researched public records and formulated biographies on Americans captured in Vietnam. After reading Lt. Rowe's biography, his Viet Cong captors became furious. They marched him into a cramped bamboo hut and forced him to sit on the damp clay floor. Several high ranking Viet Cong officials were staring down at Lt. Rowe. They held out a piece of typed onion skin paper.
"The peace and justice loving friends, of the National Liberation Front, who live in America, have provided us with information which leads us to believe you have lied to us," they informed Lt. Rowe. "According to what we know, you are not an engineer . . . you have much military experience which you deny . . . You were an officer of the American Special Forces."
Lt. Rowe sat dumbfounded, unable to comprehend that his own people would betray him. He felt it was over. He had lied to the communists for five years. Worse in their eyes, the Viet Cong had believed him. They had lost face and, for that, he would be punished. Soon after, the Viet Cong Central Committee for the National Liberation Front sent orders to Rowe's camp ordering the cadre to execute the uncooperative American prisoner.
On the day Lt. Rowe was being led to a destination for execution, he and his small group of guards were caught on the edge of an American B-52 saturation bombing raid. The guards scattered, leaving Lt. Rowe with only one. Lt. Rowe knew he had nothing to lose. He bided his time until the remaining guard carelessly moved to Rowe's front, whereupon Lt. Rowe bludgeoned him with a log and escaped. Not only did Lt. Rowe survive his ordeal as a POW, he escaped and emerged stronger than before his capture, more committed to the American ideal and more convinced than ever that what the communists had planned for Vietnam and the world was a blueprint for tyranny and human suffering. Nick Rowe frustrated the communists. They never broke him. They never shook his faith in the American system. He was the quintessential American fighting man, unable to be broken mentally or physically.
The communists, however, never forgot Lt. Nick Rowe. They never forgot the threat men such as he posed to them and their view of world domination. Shortly before 7 a.m. on April 21, 1989, a small white car pulled alongside a gray, chauffeur-driven vehicle in a traffic circle in the Manila suburb of Quezon City. The barrels of an M-16 rifle and a .45-caliber pistol poked out the window of the white car and spit out more than two dozen shots. Twenty-one of them hit the gray car. One of the rounds hit Col. James "Nick" Rowe in the head, killing him instantly. The hooded NPA killers had ties to the communist Vietnamese, Rowe's old enemies in Vietnam. It took the communists nearly 25 years, but they finally silenced Nick Rowe. What they could not do in a jungle cage in South Vietnam's U Minh Forest through torture, intimidation, and political indoctrination, they did with a .45 and an American-made M-16 on the streets of Manila.
His killer will be free in 9 days.