Death came on a Good Friday, a most sacred date on a Catholic’s calendar. Gilbert S. Baaco, had just eaten dinner with his wife and a five year old son when the silence of the Holy Week was broken by intruders who swept into his house in Brooke’s Point. Two women in fatigue poked a gun at his screaming wife. And as GSB went out of his room to help, a man standing by the door met him with a volley of shots.
It was a sudden death that shocked everyone who knew him. All are in disbelief that this could happen to GSB- he who had the most number of personnel at his beck and call, and he who had personified thorough preparation and raw courage.
Contrary to the claim of the NPA that they are responsible for his death, Gov. Jose Ch. Alvarez asserted that the crime is politically motivated, meant to undermine his leadership. He announced a 10 million peso reward for anyone who could lead him to the real mastermind. He also vowed to get justice for Gilbert “as long as he lives” .
These moves of Gov JCA underscored the importance of GSB in the Governor’s administration as well as the pivotal role he played in his political organization. He was a most trusted political lieutenant – ” a primus inter pares ” in a bunch of hardened political operators. Tested in many political battles, it was GSB’s role in the recall elections and the 2016 congressional fight in Puerto Princesa that cemented his reputation as a smooth operator who could get things done. It was in those elections that his skills were put to severe test. And how he lived up to the task. His organizational savvy was evident by the manner he mobilized his men during the most critical stage of the campaign.
It was said that he deployed hundreds of his partisans to specific points to neutralize the opponents and bring home the message that they were prepared to fight – till kingdom come. Not a few attributed the victory of those elections to GSB’s operations.
With him gone, Gov. JCA may have to reconfigure his organization and review most of his administration’s programs. Certainly, the Gov’s inner circle is not bereft of men as capable as him and who too could deliver results. There is, however, an indispensable element in any leader – operator relationship which only a unique confluence of events could foster. In the case of Gov.JCA and GSB, it all went back to the day when GIlbert was left for dead after a near fatal road accident. He could have been dead then, were it not for the emphatic request of the late Dr. Gerry Ortega to JCA, prodding him to give the dying man a fighting chance to live. And out of his friendship with Doc Gerry, JCA got him on his private jet and gave GSB, then unknown to him, the best medical care money could buy.
He survived. And JCA got a loyal ally, a shrewd henchman and one who would take a bullet for him – anytime. With Gov. JCA ‘s unwavering support, GSB headed most of the Capitol’s strategic programs – Rescue 165, scholarship, livelihood, Bantay Turista, Community Affairs, and of course, the Governor’s political machine. All were handled with aplomb.
Now you know why he is such a big loss.