Generals justify wrongs /Priest blames the poor
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - January 3, 2018 - 12:00am

Why can’t generals just denounce the police breach of procedures in the shoot-up of a carload of civilians rushing to hospital? If the police shooting was arbitrary and indiscriminate, then it’s wrong. That wrong must be corrected through retraining of the force, and punishment of the culprits, especially since two civilians lives were lost.

Why do Gens. Bato dela Rosa and Oscar Albayalde keep inserting that the cops were misled by village watchmen into shooting first then asking questions later? In so doing they’re diminishing the cops’ liability. That will not right the wrong, but instead lead to other wrongs. Injustice would result. Civilians all the more would despise the police.

They must stick to the case facts, gathered from the crime scene: 10:15 p.m., Dec. 28, Barangay Addition Hills. There was an altercation over parking. One group fired a gun, hitting a woman. A van driver offered to rush her to hospital; the woman’s partner and four construction workers rode with them. They were accosted by barangay tanod (watchmen) who claimed to have been told that they were the shooters. When they sped on, the watchmen – forbidden from carrying arms – fired at them. Cops in five vehicles joined the chase to the adjacent barangay. Told by the watchmen that the persons in the van were armed, the cops too started shooting. When the smoke cleared, the bloodied woman and one of the Good Samaritans lay dead; the partner and the driver critically were wounded. Investigators counted 36 bullet holes on the van and recovered 36 spent shells. No firearm was found inside the van.

Non sequitur is the barangay chairman’s remark that the van should have stopped when accosted. Likely the driver was engrossed with honking his horn, flashing emergency lights, and plotting his route to the hospital; the men were yelling that an injured person was onboard, and were tending to her. What that chairman should explain is why his men were armed and dangerous. Were they with the first shooters to begin with, and so deliberately misled the cops?

As illogical is the generals saying that their men fired because told that the van riders were armed. The manualized rules of engagement state that cops may fire only when confronted with danger. Where was the danger in van riders shouting to be on the way to hospital? If properly trained and alert the cops would have accosted the shooting watchmen instead, and escorted the van. They shouldn’t have fired at all on mere claim that the riders were armed. Dela Rosa and Albayalde are known to be armed. What would they want Mandaluyong cops to do to them? The President of the Philippines declares to carry a gun too. What should those city cops do to him?

With no sane answers, this case can be whitewashed.

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Speaking of misleading, what would one make of the Catholic bishops’ spokesman Fr. Jerome Secillano’s New Year message? He said Filipinos should resolve in 2018 to quit blaming their misery on others. “I think Filipinos should stop putting the blame on others, or finger pointing,” at least three newspapers quoted him as saying. “Filipinos always blame our government... Let us all be productive citizens of this country. That is what we lack, we always rely on others. We should do what is right and necessary.”

That sounds so much like a Spanish friar lecturing wretched indios to work harder instead of pondering over colonial oppression. It’s their fault that they are poor so they should stop blaming the Real Audiencia. In today’s situation, it’s like saying that worthless MRT-3 rider should stop blaming others and only himself for the miserable ride. He should not expect the government to hire able maintenance firms or give him proper service.

Three in ten Filipinos are poor. They have been so for the past 32 years, since so-called democratic restoration through People Power. That’s because the political elite has not reformed the socio-economy. Instead it fools the people into preserving dynastic reigns through supposedly democratic elections.

A hungry man is not a free man. People sell their votes by the household because three-yearly elections are the easiest way to make a buck. A thousand pesos or two per adult to stay home while the political dynasts’ henchmen cast the ballot for them certainly beats the P100 or P200 they’d make toiling the farm or factory. Then for the next three years the dynasts would busy themselves robbing the same people blind. They’d be taking kickbacks from public contracts and loans paid with the people’s tax money. Up to ten years ago dynasts were amassing P200 million from plunder. Nowadays they are targeting ten times more. The goal is to have mansions in their locales, in the provincial and national capitals, and in America and Europe.

To tell the poor to stop blaming those and only his fate for his plight is to perpetuate the oppression. Today’s Catholic priests must care for the poor, not to help the world’s greedy elite go on fooling them. All the great encyclicals of the past century and a half say so.

Secillano presumably knows that. He was also quoted as saying: “I think Filipinos should be more socially aware, more conscious of the issues that are happening... They should actually participate, make their voices known or heard. Otherwise, some other politicians, our government for that matter, will just take advantage of us. And we would be taken for a ride, whatever they want, what they do they implement without us having a say in all of this... Let us be mindful of the issues that may adversely affect us. Sometimes people tend not to care. We need to be socially aware, conscious.”

If so, he should erase his other statement about not blaming government. Failure to do so is speaking with a forked tongue.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

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