An incredible true story that reads like an international crime thriller peopled with assassins, political activists, shady FBI informants, murdered witnesses, a tenacious attorney, and a murderous foreign dictator.
On June 1, 1981, two young activists, Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes, were murdered in Seattle in what was made to appear like a gang slaying. But the victims’ families and friends suspected they were considered a threat to the dictatorship of Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his regime’s relationship to the United States.
But how could they prove it up against such powerful, and ruthless, adversaries?
In SUMMARY EXECUTIONattorney and author Michael Withey describes his ten-year battle for justice for Domingo and Viernes that he fought because “They killed my friends.” Follow along as he embarks on a long and dangerous investigation and into the courtroom to obtain convictions of three hitmen, and then prove in U.S. federal court that Marcos was behind the assassinations. If so, it would be the first time in U.S. history that a foreign head of state would be held liable for the murder of American citizens on U.S. soil.
However, to do accomplish this Withey and his legal team, working with the victims’ families and friends, would have to defeat concerted efforts by the murderers, and those who hired them, to cover-up their crimes and obstruct justice. Then they’d have to overcome numerous obstacles including exposing the perjured eyewitness testimony of an FBI informant, uncovering the brutal murder of an accomplice who was being sought to turn state’s evidence, and working around the failure by local authorities to prosecute the Marcos operative who planned the murders.
“If you have not heard Mike Withey tell the story of the cover-up of the Domingo/Viernes murders, you have not lived. I thank my friend and colleague Mike for writing it.”— Vince Warren, Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights
From The Book:
“We called this meeting to inform you about the murders of our union officers Gene and Silme and how we are going to accomplish getting you all to Alaska in the coming weeks. We are saddened by these senseless murders and anyone out there that thinks they can intimidate us better think again.” Tony Baruso was looking down at his notes and did not seem to notice that Boy Pilay, who had headed toward the restroom had stopped abruptly.
Tony Baruso continued, “There are those who are claiming that Gene and Silme were anti-Marcos. I can tell you that President Marcos had nothing to do with these murders.”
Terri and I looked at each other surprised. Nobody had even claimed Marcos was involved.
He continued, “We have made changes to make this union stronger and better and we are going to continue to reform this union.”
A thunderous bang punctuated an already tense scene as Terri slammed her hand down on the table in front of her and shouted “No!”
Silence took over the room for a brief moment before breaking into tumult. I saw both Boyse and Pilay reach inside their coats and fully expected them to pull out their firearms. But their hands stayed inside their jackets and Terri continued.
“Don’t you take credit for the reform work that Gene and Silme led,” Terri said, “You fought us every step of the way and we are not going to take it anymore.”
Then Terri wiped a tear from her eye and looked out over the anxious but attentive crowd. Then, resolute, she said in a strong voice:
“Whoever committed this horrendous crime got one thing wrong. They thought by killing Gene and Silme they would be done with the reform movement and could control this union. But Gene and Silme never saw this as a struggle for just the two of them. They built an active and vibrant movement, our Rank and File Committee, who stand here ready willing and able to make sure this union survives and is run right. They killed our union brothers but they can’t stop US. Any questions?”
Wild and raucous applause broke out in the hall. Supporters rushed to Terri’s side to offer her support for her amazing courage.
“It’s an amazing story and a great read. Enjoy this inspirational book. It honors the work of Gene and Silme and explores what it takes to achieve justice.” – Randy Aliment, chairs the American Bar Association’s Tort, Trial and Insurance Law Section
From The Author:
Summary Execution is a very personal story for me. Silme Domingo was my best friend and I was very close with Gene as well. I fought for them because “They killed my friends.” It is that simple. I dropped out of law practice for 2 and ½ years to work solely on investigating those responsible for the murders and bringing our law suit. It was my honor to represent the courageous families of Gene and Silme. Writing this book is my bucket list of one.
Praise For Michael Withey and SUMMARY EXECUTION:
“At the recent Human Rights Abuses: Expose the Cover-Ups conference at the UW School of Law, I said we needed ‘activists, lawyers, and storytellers.’ When I heard Mike Withey (who is all three!) give his presentation about the Domingo and Viernes story and describe the ‘Anatomy of a Cover-Up’ in that case, I tweeted to my followers and friends: ‘If you have not heard Mike Withey tell the story of the cover-up of the Domingo Viernes murders, you have not lived.’ I am really looking forward to the publication of Summary Execution. I thank my friend and colleague Mike for writing it.” – Vince Warren, Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights
“I and co-producer Carol Palakoff first met Mike Withey, Terri Mast, and Cindy Domingo in 1986 as part of a film project we hoped to bring about. We had heard of their work in their quest for justice for the murders of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes, and felt strongly, as we do now, that a movie should be made describing their courageous work in proving that Marcos regime was behind the murders and confronting those who wanted to see their justice efforts fail. We were heartened by their victories in court but remain convinced that there are others who need to be held accountable. I am really looking forward to the publication of Mike’s book and hope a movie can eventually be made of this amazing story of struggle, survival and success.” – Elizabeth Daley, Dean, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California.
“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 US government’s role in these tragic murders and their cover-up. But the court dismissed the government from the suit before the truth could be known. The fact that an FBI informant was both at the scene of the murders and a direct part of the cover-up is amazing — and truly disturbing.” – Arthur Bryant, Chairman, Public Justice Foundation
“More than three decades after the Seattle murder of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes at the hands of Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos, new possibilities exist for holding tyrants – including even heads of state — accountable. Keeping the story of Gene and Silme alive, not only the story of their death but the story of their lives as trade unionists, as husbands and brothers, as activists, as fighters for a democratic Philippines, will play a huge role in broadening that potential for accountability even further. Perhaps even more important, the story will expose the role that United States government agents and agencies may have played in the killing of Gene and Silme — and that exposé remains a key component of our own fight for real democracy here in the United States.” – Phyllis Bennis, Director, New Internationalism Project, Institute for Policy Studies