A son's love and death wish

Inday Espina-Varona

Posted at Nov 26 2015 10:40 PM | Updated as of Nov 27 2015 05:50 PM

The most gripping footage on the fall of Jason Ivler, the recently convicted killer of Renato Victor Ebarle Jr., are a wounded man’s screams to be finished off by arresting officers.

Before that moment and for weeks afterwards, all the drama came from his mother, Marlene Aguilar.

In many ways, the hoopla over Jason Ivler affair was more about Marlene than her son. That dynamic defines their relationship.

Jason Ivler in many ways lived for his mother, Marlene Aguilar.

Marlene claims Jason --who had been in various scrapes before the killing of Ebarle-- was framed by a group of powerful Americans out to punish her. Partly she says, for incendiary essays that blame much of the world’s carnage and other woes on the US of A, and partly for refusing to obey mysterious biddings.

Thousands of people have hurled the same conspiracy theories--Americans bathing in Nazi booty; Americans funding drug syndicates; Americans planning 9/11 to justify a war against terrorists. Most are alive and well.

That’s not to say those claims are false. The US government and its minions have been caught a couple of times with dirty hands.

Drugs funded the dirty war in Asia, during and after the Vietnam War (Operation Phoenix). US officials sold weapons to Iran to free hostages and help Nicaragua’s rightwing Contra rebels. Before and after Osama bin Laden, the US backed Afghan narcotics dealers (Ahmad Rateb Popal) and opium producers. In this country, the late Michael Meiring posed as a treasure hunter until he blew up his Davao City hotel room. US intelligence officers whisked him before he could be tried for terrorism. Ask Rodrigo Duterte.

Print and television reports, novels and non-fiction books have tackled the hypocrisy and arrogance of powerful nations and business and religious blocs. Most gallop along at a faster pace and with more polish than Aguilar’s “novels”. Certainly, they command much wider audiences.

Print media, television, novels and non-fiction books have tackled the hypocrisy and arrogance of powerful nations and business and religious blocs. Most gallop along at a faster pace and with more polished than Aguilar’s “novels”. Certainly, they command much wider audiences.

So why is she being singled out?

Marlene Aguilar details the death wish of her son in the book, "Warriors of Heaven", which launched three days after Jason shot dead Renato Ebarle Jr. on Nov. 19, 2009.

Critics see Marlene as flaky and delusional. But the more interesting stuff in her books are the biographical notes: The meetings with sundry military men, spooks and criminal elements (hard to differentiate one from the other); and the often scary adventures that happen to her friends.

At least several of her closest pals (the seer Paulie, the bodyguard Mark Hauser) verified some of Marlene’s claims before she launched the book, "Warriors of Heaven". This was way before Jason killed Ebarle.

Current and retired police intelligence sources, up and down and sideways through that organization, insist they know “nothing” about mother and son -- despite their having figured in previous high profile cases.

Violent past

Marlene has admitted to a “violent” past.

"Warriors" narrates her close shaves and the deaths and tortures of loved ones. Drug lords march in and out of her life. She cajoled and threatened powerful men to bail Jason out of trouble prior to the Ebarle case.

Yet she blames the family woes on these same friends. Marlene admits her violent past has influenced Jason’s behavior – though she also describes her son as an angel.

"Bringer of Death," another book by Aguilar

Services rendered and withheld on all sides – in that tangle lies the real story in Marlene’s life.

I asked once why she just doesn’t tell it straight.

The answer: Because she didn’t want to die, that she had a strong sense of self-preservation.

Indeed, and her weakest link has paid the price. His young life has been odyssey to an untenable place.

Marlene earlier told media of her son was framed for a criminal act while serving in the US military.

What she did not publicly acknowledge, but which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) bared in the aftermath of Jason’s capture is, that his return to the Philippines wasn’t just a case of homesickness.

Ivler fled the United States as he was about to start trial for the transport of commercial quantities of an illegal drug, flunitrazepam, a powerful sedative, with intent to sell.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) letter to the National Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said the state of Nevada issued a warrant for Jason’s arrest on September 9, 2009 for his failure to attend a court hearing.

In November of the same year, he shot Ebarle dead.

The American case is non-bailable, but will have to wait until the appeals process for Jason comes to an end.

An NBI source told me the FBI had informed them of the US case. That is why they did not believe Marlene’s claim that her son had flown back to the US.

They did not bring out this piece of information, however, because they wanted to see how the mother would play out “the script.”

Death wish

Jason takes after his mother in terms of theatrical and artistic aspirations.

He was part of an ensemble of young actors in a local Saturday television show. He made rap records and starred in his own videos.

What he doesn’t share is his mom’s steely self-preservation.

His mother had gone around with stories of a conspiracy behind the 2004 traffic accident that killed Malacañang resettlement officer Nestor Ponce Jr. She claimed a truck rammed into Jason’s vehicle and then sped away.

Yet the son was confessing on his music album and on the Internet that yes, he killed Ponce, but that it was an accident.

(He would repeat the apology right after his sentencing, but insist innocence in the killing of Ebarle. Authorities said forensic tests showed he used the same gun in the Ebarle killing and the shootout at his mother’s house.)

Ivler after sentencing. Photo by ABS-CBNNews.com

In his old rap CD, on video and some letters, Jason speaks gangsta, a classic brat who blames all his problems on the world.

Elsewhere, he is a sad, resigned, weary man burdened by a belief—drummed in by his mother--that he is the hostage in her battles with enemies.

At one point in “Warriors”, he offers to kill himself (or kill others) to end the stalemate.

NBI arresting agents say Jason acted ala Rambo, spraying automatic fire while he huddled in a cubicle under the stairs, trapping a media crew of ABS-CBN.

He stormed out of his hideout, rifle blazing, when he thought authorities had run out of bullets.

He miscalculated and was hit and subdued by lawmen.

Even fallen, he struggled fiercely, screaming at agents to kill him.


Marlene earlier told reporters her son would surrender only to God.

NBI agents had to pin Jason down. They put him in a makeshift straightjacket (his own combat vest put on backwards) because he kept trying to break free. She said they treated him like a pig.

Few fallen suspects scream to be relieved of life. Doctors said Jason tried several times to rip off tubes in the emergency room until powerful anesthesia kicked in as he went under the knife for repair of wounds suffered by his large intestine and spleen.

Post-operation, they kept him on suicide watch.

In "Warriors", Marlene acknowledged her son’s death wish just a year before he came home. In letters to friends, she said Jason felt trapped.

Following Jason’s detention in July 2008, just a year after joining the US Army, Marlene advised her son to keep busy.

“Stop wanting to get out. Stop struggling and let the forces of nature do their work. There are greater forces beyond our control. I am asking you to find some patience and humility to bow down to the celestial forces at this point in your life.”

“If you don’t, you will harm yourself. And you will end up hurting me as well. You know I don’t ask for anything from you. I only want your happiness. I’m asking now. You must do this one for me. Take this fall with humility.”

Many times, Marlene has said, “I will never surrender.” She asked her son to submit --to save her.

“I don’t hate these people. Believe me, if I were them I would probably do the same thing. Our souls now are more entwined than ever. If we don’t play this right, they will own me. So please be patient. I love you.”


According to Marlene, Jason volunteered for the 50 deadliest missions in Iraq in his short stint with the Army.

That is hard to verify independently. There are others who refute her claim that Jason was a member of the Special Forces, the “only minority in his batch.”

The US Embassy has refused to answer any question about Ivler.

In a “Warriors” entry dated Sept. 22 2008, Marlene said Jason wrote about wanting to end his life.

“…part of him cannot accept that these people may be using him as a bargaining power over me. Therefore he has thought of killing himself to defy them.”

Authorities filed an obstruction of justice case against Marlene Aguilar in relation to her son's attempts to evade the law but the case was dismissed.

The Jason in the book emerges as brave but very, very troubled.

In an exchange that she claims is verbatim, Jason says:

“Some days I feel fine. Some days I feel like everything is ok, some days I think of nothing else but destruction and killing myself. The thought of being used as a bargaining chip makes me feel all the more rebellious. It makes me feel like shooting myself in the face only to spite those who think they can control my every move…”

Marlene replies:

“Thank god I have the strength to read all of what you just sent me. I wonder if your father had the same thoughts, because there is nothing within my psyche that would allow me to kill myself or inflict pain upon myself. I hate it when you talk of harming yourself. I wish you wouldn’t because you will end up hurting me the most and those who love you. I need you so please contain your temper. I love you.”

That is a very heavy burden for any son to shoulder.

Childhood trauma

Marlene calls herself a survivor of severe violence by her father. None of her siblings refute this.

She believes her two former husbands--Jason’s father and the father of her second son, Colby--were murdered for mysterious reasons.

In her book, she narrates an incident where she and a past lover -- who she suspected of having a hand in the murders of her former partners -- escape from unidentified pursuers.

Marlene said she continued to carry on with his man because of defiance and a stubborn will to be “free.”

She claims to have turned down offers of power against the advice of friends due to a refusal to bow to the same men.

Jason agrees with his mother’s image of herself. But the son apparently does not share this tenacity to survive whatever the cost.

In response to Marlene, he wrote:

“I’m sorry I worry you. The truth is we both know how strong you are and we both know you will be able to move on from any experience no matter how traumatic. This is not to say that I’m going to go ahead and put a bullet in my face. I’m just saying I believe you could deal with it. In fact I believe it would make you stronger. I do love you and do not wish you any more pain or discomfort in your life than you have already chosen for yourself. All I know is that I will be out of here one day dead or alive. I miss you. I love you.”

A mother grieves for an injured and captured son. Photo by ABS-CBNNews.com

Marlene believed her mercurial moods kept her enemies off-guard. She kept up this role-play in the aftermath of the Ebarle slay.

She believed the lawmen were awed by the new knowledge gained from her realpolitik lectures.

She also taunted them to join her Blue Ridge household to save themselves surveillance expenses.

Officers told me they just humored Marlene, feigning awe, “waiting for her to make a mistake”.

Jason, a failure in his avowed goal to kill himself (or let others kill him), has paid the price for his mother’s “freedom.”

It is a price the son may feel is worth the sacrifice.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.