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.

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