COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva1 (The Philippine Star) - January 7, 2013 - 12:00am

Cavite provincial prosecutor Manny Velasco confirmed indeed Ronald Bae, the slain suspect in the Kawit, Cavite shooting rampage last Friday, used to work as security escort of his father, former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director Epimaco Velasco. Prosecutor Velasco admitted this in a radio interview over the weekend that it was Bae’s father who first served as chief security officer of his father and later Ronald himself was assigned as security escort of the ex-NBI chief.

The name of ex-NBI chief Velasco, who was once governor of Cavite long ago, came up following the digging of background and profile of Bae. Investigators are reportedly looking at all angles whether the shooter had political patrons, or backers at the provincial police office. Or for whatever reason why Bae remained free from the long arms of the law all this time until that fateful day he killed seven people, three of them children.

The 41-year-old Bae, called in their community as “Bossing,” was a two-term former barangay councilman in Bgy.Tabon. He later ran for barangay chairman but lost during the May 2010 elections.

“Why are they afraid of Bossing? Caviteños are known to be brave people. Whether he was the son of former security of my father, no one should have feared to report to police his alleged illegal activities,” prosecutor Velasco pointed out.

“He (Bae) was allegedly even involved in illegal drugs trade. If anyone knows he’s into drugs and yet he ran for barangay, why did they vote for him?” Velasco rhetorically asked.

Immediately after the shooting rampage incident, Kawit’s top cop, Police Chief inspector Jowel Saliba and his deputy Inspector Henry Salazar were relieved from their respective posts. Initially, the two police officers were being questioned for alleged slow response after they got the report of a deadly shooting in Tabon.

Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) Police Director, Chief Superintendent James Melad was quick to deny the slow response by the Kawit police. He cited the fact that Bae was “neutralized” – police parlance meaning the perpetrator was either arrested or killed – in just ten minutes after the police report came in.

What Melad has not explained yet was the serious allegation that unnamed citizens of Bgy. Tabon reported to Kawit police that Bae fired his gun during the New Year’s eve revelry. But obviously the Kawit police did not act on the report until Bae went on the shooting spree last Friday.

This made Bae look like an “untouchable,” or worse, a “sacred cow” who can flaunt the laws with impunity. He had previous cases of illegal drugs arrest in 2010 as well as illegal possession of high-powered firearms charges. How come he was out there free as a bird?

As pieced together by an ongoing police investigation, Bae was described in their community as someone whom they can turn to for assistance, or “madaling lapitan” in local parlance. Ironically, Bae, however, was also reportedly “feared” in their neighborhood.

Presumably, the fear started after Bae’s arrest for criminal activities in March 2010, which perhaps finally cost him his election bid in May that year. Bae was likely able to post bail as his case remains pending before a Cavite court.

His losing the local elections was one of the causes of reported depression of Bae that drove him to a deadly mix of illegal drugs and liquor intake. Politics could really drive anyone crazy, especially for those power hungry people who can’t accept defeat.

The Kawit shooting incident highlighted the danger we live in our community where there may be trigger-happy losers. And worse, if there are armed people in our neighborhood who have “utak pulbura,” roughly translated, with gunpowder mentality.

All the more this Kawit shooting rampage underscored the need for law enforcement authorities, not just the police, to really clamp down on the proliferation of “loose” firearms with the campaign period starting early for the May elections.

Whatever the reasons, Bae’s mindless massacre of people and children who he saw that day were no justification for what he did. One of the Kawit gunshot victims, three-year-old Ken Cedric is a godson of the suspect and pointed to his “ninong” as the one who shot him and his two other siblings inside their house.

In the meantime, our national and local politicians as well as pro-gun and anti-gun advocates are bashing each other over gun control issues. Actually, the issue first started with the tragic “stray” bullet incident during the New Year’s eve revelry that snuffed the life of seven-year-old Nicole Ella. The Caloocan City police have yet to trace the culprit who fired the .45 caliber that killed Nicole, unintentionally.

There are about 1.5 million licensed gun owners in the Philippines, according to police records. The same police statistics, however, show there are roughly 600,000 unlicensed firearms in circulation across the country.

Thus, the PNP consider these as “loose” firearms that were previously registered and licensed but were not renewed, and therefore unaccounted.

For being a gun enthusiast, President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III is dragged into the middle of this word war over gun control. It is not as if it is easy to buy firearms in the Philippines as they do over the counter in gun stores in the United States. They have adopted the most stringent gun control laws in the US but still these have not apparently deterred crazy people in America to commit massacre, or mass murder in fits of insanity or whatever cause.

Only last Dec. 14, a crazed gunman barged in and opened fire while classes were taking place in the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. The gunman killed 26 people, including the school principal, several teachers and 20 very young schoolchildren, and his own mother.

Before Bae’s shooting rampage, there has been no such case of murderous rage massacre in our country. Bae was perhaps just a copycat, though unfortunately tragic for his victims. Sadly, the calls for tighter gun control by our government officials were also copycat, if only we have more effective law enforcement.


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