Pacquiao upset; Garcia finally in dock

HERE'S THE SCORE - Teodoro C. Benigno -
We Filipinos built up Manny Pacquiao too much that when he lost by decision to Mexico’s Erik Morales, we were all startled and stunned, unable to understand how our super-ringster could lose what we thought was a sure thing. Well, he lost and the decision was – I think – fair. Our Manny didn’t have what it takes to bring down an elusive foe who was crafty, cunning and calculating, who also fought bravely and studied the Filipino’s pugilistic style almost to perfection. Maybe, he had. But when Manny was badly cup up in the right eye by a head butt, you knew, somehow you knew, the strategic and psychological advantage shifted to the Mexican who wasted no time peppering the cut with jobs, and right-hand assaults.

The referee Joe Cortes should have seen the headbutt, but didn’t. And by that token died all our hopes that Manny Pacquiao would come home a hero, the greatest Filipino that ever donned fighting gloves for a living, greater than Gabriel (Flash) Elorde, greater than Pancho Villa.

Still and all, it was a great, bruising fight. In the seventh, despite blood streaming from the head butt, Pacquiao ploughed into the Mexican, raged with rights and lefts, had Morales wobbly. Another smashing right to the chin and Morales knees would chatter and his head spin. But that right never came for Morales knew how to get away, and, in time, brawled back. And the crowd roared. It was the same in the ninth. Pacquiao should have fallen behind by this time, but raw, blistering courage carried him, and he fought without fear despite the blood steaking on his right cheek.

Know what? The Mexican pulled a fast one on everybody by pretending to be wan and weak, in fact sick when he arrived and showed up for the weigh-in, slack and loose, his arms a-hanging. I told myself Manny will destroy Erik Morales in no time.

He was not sick at all. Once in the ring, Erik Morales brought all his guile and cunning to play and simply outwitted our boy. Manny and all of us expected Morales would come in like a snorting bull, trade punch for punch, and expose his jaw to the Filipino’s bombardment. It didn’t happen that way. Yes, the Mexican did come in. But when Pacquiao was about to unload his bomb bay, he got inside and saw to it, he had our boy tied up.

But it was not one-sided at all. Pacquiao fought a brave fight, did what he was instructed to do by his talented trainer Freddie Roach, and it was close or almost. But there was no doubt he lost particularly after the fifth round when he sustained a bad cut on his right eye. It was the result of a head butt, and Pacquiao motioned that it was, but the referee did not see it, or pretended not to, while the announcers did. With such a bad gash, Pacquiao probably lost a fifth of his animo, knowing that if he lurched like a wounded bull, the Mexican would open that cut to a gaping wound.

Whenever Pacquiao sought to make up, Erik Morales danced out of danger. The Mexican was wily, knew and practised all the tricks, at times shifted from a righthander to a southpaw to flummox Manny. He did not run or ride a bicycle as we thought to flee Pacquiao’s bombs. He rode those split-seconds between attack and retreat to get inside and dismantle the "shock and the awe" in Manny’s blows, admittedly the most devastating in the featherweight division.

There were flurries, torried exchanges in mid-ring but they never flared to the explosive, sustaining level that would result in knock-downs and knockouts. Morales would clinch or break away, use his reach to advantage, oft-times aware he was out-thinking the Filipino, mastering Pacquiao’s tremendous punching power, by staying away, then coming in, his hands just as fast.

If we have to give it to Manny Pacquiao, he showed everybody what courage was. He fought on and on even when his breath began to come in spurts, even when I knew he was almost at the end of his tether, because he had hardly ever fought until the twelfth round. And he was there, his heart was there, his eyes continued to burn because he was a fighter unto the ring born, and he would fight, fight, fight.

In the tenth, he was still fighting furiously even when his mouthpiece flew out, and his face a mask of weals and welts. Things, maybe, could have been different if his right eyebrow hadn’t been cut in the fifth. But that is the way the fight game is. Maybe if the gloves had not been changed from light to heavier gloves by the high priests of the fight, Pacquiao could have won.

He landed so many punches, the same that felled his foes in previous fights, but this time Erik Morales just didn’t go down. Were those gloves changed on the instance of the Morales camp? We don’t know, I think we will never know.

But it was close. And a rematch would again be the talk of the town.

So he lost, but Pacquiao is far from finished. He remains, pound for pound, one of the best fighters of the world in his catchweight. The fight announcers at MGM Grand were often breathless and at a loss for superlatives as they watched Pacquiao fight round after round, at times seemingly bushed, but in a trice booming out with a brace of punches culled from a hundred lungs.

Erik Morales after the fight lied. He said he was never hurt by Manny’s gloved fists. He was. I saw him twice stagger after two lefts to the jaw, then go headlong into retreat as Manny barged in like a tank with all turrets blazing.

But I will not contest his triumph. He won fair and square within three whiskers.

I have one word of advice for Manny Pacquiao. Indeed, he is a marvel. He is a pure warrior while Erik Morales won by using his brains. Next time, it will be worth Pacquiao’s while if he goes into the mental intricacies of boxing. If he does so and learns, he will be unbeatable.
* * *
In other countries, in other climes, the case of a top thieving officer would have been dealt with summarily like the swish of an avenging sword or the crackle of a firing squad. When Cuban president Fidel Castro found out years ago a general, high in the hierarchy and even a comrade of his, was engaged in narcotics, he lost no time executing the man. It may have been harsh but it was swift, the kind of justice demanded by the times. This is the kind of justice we need in the Philippines today where there are many laws but hardly any order, where only the poor are thrown into pokey, where the high and the mighty rule with impunity.

And we wonder. When will Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia ever be brought to book?

It has been found out, and the evidence is abundant, that this man stole millions, that he, his wife, and two sons have bundled fortunes of dollars out of the country, have been caught by US security agents. But many months have passed by since December when they were apprehended. And today General Garcia continues to enjoy the enfolding embrace of the military establishment. The only charge that hangs on his head is perjury and falsification of public documents even as the military goes through the motions of court-martial proceedings. Who’re they kidding?

Fortunately, we have two highly esteemed private lawyers, Frank Chavez and Mario E. Ongkiko at the head of a group called Operation Clean Hands. Last Tuesday, they took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and filed plunder charges in the amount of P108,181,500, against Garcia. Other accused were John Doe, Jane Doe, James Doe and Joel Doe, as yet the unidentified co-conspirators of General Garcia who maintained 40 bank accounts at the United Coconut Planters Bank, Allied Bank and Police Savings and Loan Association.

We don’t really know how many Does there are.

The suspicion is that General Garcia is covering up for some top generals in the AFP who connived with him, and manages to keep safely in the shadows because they are close to or enjoy good graces of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. So it will remain that way for sometime until other brave citizens of the republic step forward to join the Messrs. Chavez and Ongkiko and rip wide open the closets that conceal official skullduggery of the highest order. Then maybe just maybe the good Lord up high will decide to save the nation from mass suicide.

If I were the president, I would, as commander-in-chief, expose this whole stinking rutabaga, which has soiled, dirtied, and sullied the nation more than other scandals. The military is supposed to bristle with officers and gentlemen entrusted with the task of shielding the country from evil of every kind. Instead, they crawl from under the rocks, from mildewed midden sheds with reptilian stealth and inflict evil themselves.

They, alongside our politicians, should be shot. But who will shoot them?

As they say in Latin, quis custodies ipsos custodies. Who will guard the guardians? Filipinos in the main today are meek, forbearing, just looking askance at massive official thievery, the kind perpetrated during the halcyon days of the Marcos dictatorship. Claro Recto’s deathless declaration also comes to mind, where he have the blind leading the blind, and we don’t even have the one-eyed.










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