New Book Explores Precedent Setting Public Justice Case
On June 1st, 1981 two political activists, Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes, were murdered in their union hall in Seattle. Ten years later a federal court found Ferdinand Marcos, the former dictator of the Philippines, liable for the murders. Led by two courageous women, Terri Mast and Cindy Domingo, the Committee for Justice for Domingo and Viernes proved that Marcos had the two men murdered because they were effective leaders of the anti-Marcos opposition in the US who had built ties of solidarity with the labor movement in the Philippines opposed to Marcos.
The $23.1 million jury award was the first and only time a foreign head of state has been held liable for the murder of US citizens on our soil. But Marcos had help: a secret FBI informant was placed at the scene of the murders and then came forward in a failed attempt to exonerate the hit men at their trial.
Their counsel, former Public Justice Foundation President Mike Withey (pictured), is writing a book, The Domingo and Viernes Story, about the murders, the involvement of US intelligence agencies, and the decades’ long quest for justice. The book, written in narrative form, will focus on exposing the role of the United States government in the murders and cover up. It cites documents obtained from the US Naval Investigative Service (NIS), showing it had procured an Executive Order allowing NIS to infiltrate and operate against the influential anti-Marcos organization that Gene and Silme helped lead.
Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (as Public Justice was then known) was involved in this precedent setting case by conducting discovery against various US intelligence agencies suspected of engineering a cover up of the murders. TLPJ co-operating counsel Richard Ben-Veniste (former chief counsel in the Watergate prosecution) also lent his expertise in to the effort. Unfortunately, the Court dismissed the US from the lawsuit and prohibited the Estates from presenting evidence of US involvement. Withey’s book will detail the evidence showing that the FBI and NIS were involved in providing derogatory information about the two to Marcos intelligence and then engineered a concerted cover up of their role – and that of the Marcos regime – in the murders.
Mike is now seeking to expand awareness and support of the case to help finally hold all those involved in this egregious human rights violation accountable. He recently filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI, demanding they explain how and why the FBI informant was at the scene of the murders and later decided to testify against the prosecution.
To find out more about the case, please go to www.michaelwithey.com and sign up to get further updates and receive the first chapter of Mike’s book. As Public Justice Chairman Arthur Bryant stated in his testimonial:
“The Domingo and Viernes Story needs to be told—and Mike Withey is the perfect person to tell it. Public Justice became involved in this extraordinarily important, precedent-setting case to help find out the U.S. Government’s role in these tragic murders and their cover-up.”
Thirty-four years have passed since the murders took place, but the pursuit of justice is not yet finished. No financial support is requested. Just provide your email address so Mike may send you the first chapter of the book and keep you updated on developments on the book and the FOIA case. Thank you for your support of this important quest for justice.