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Opinion

#Impunity-35

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

"Intolerance for impunity” is a phrase that officials of the Marcos Jr. government have been tossing around lately, particularly those dealing with the negative reviews of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. It is something that guys like Secretary Boying Remulla of the DOJ has to talk about if only to keep the stain of human rights abuse away from PBBM and the new administration since they were not involved directly in the incidents or the matter.

However, declaring a policy of intolerance for “impunity” and abuse of authority inevitably imposes an obligation on the part of anyone and government to act on any and all cases that represents impunity. One with the power necessarily becomes responsible for what the power is for. On the part of Secretary Boying Remulla, his is the power of justice and law enforcement. He cannot celebrate one case that exercises justice such as the life time sentence on a rogue cop and on the other turn a blind eye or be deaf regarding the case of 35 missing people.

The relatives of the missing 35 sabungeros have recently cried out to President Bongbong Marcos to help them and give them justice. The President and the Secretary of Justice would do well to read the book of St. Luke chapter 18 verses 1 to 8 about the parable of a widow who nagged a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. The widow came to him saying “avenge me of mine adversary.”

The judge ignored the widow for a while but decided to himself: “Though I neither fear God nor regard men, but because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.” And Jesus said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall not God avenge his own elect which cry day and night unto him though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.”

In a way, God is saying that if the DOJ does not avenge the victims, God will. I am reminded of those God-related billboard messages on highways where one says, “Don’t make me go down there GOD.”

*      *      *

Last week I received a number of messages informing me that a new witness has surfaced in connection with the disappearance of 35 sabungeros and that I should watch the videos uploaded by ABS-CBN on YouTube. Obviously there are still many people who won’t stop asking for justice, just like the widow in the parable. True enough, there was a new report about a “witness” who recognized one of the men that handcuffed and escorted one of the missing sabungeros. The witness named the escort and added that he was a farm manager of a game farm based in Laguna.

As I viewed the videos, I watched the account of a wife and the mother  of the missing sabungero telling the ABS-CBN reporter that someone had approached them and offered them P1 million in exchange for signing a waiver. When the wife asked “waiver of what,” the person making the offer simply said “it’s just a statement saying you accepted P1 million.” The mother added that the money was allegedly gathered by small cockpit operators whose business was being affected by the media reports.

If that, Secretary Remulla, is not IMPUNITY, I don’t know what is. Imagine the nerve and fearlessness of persons to offer P1 million to “victims” to waive their desire for the truth, for justice and to find their missing family member! If that is not the most evil form of impunity and injustice, I don’t want to know what is.

*      *      *

Senator Francis “Tol” Tolentino once mentioned the need to revive the Philippine Gamefowl Commission in order to protect and promote the sabong industry and not allow it to be controlled by unscrupulous local politicians and gambling syndicates.

There used to be such a body, but some self-serving lawmakers and politicians manipulated matters and placed the commission under the Games and Amusements Board, effectively downgrading it to a sport or a form of legal gambling instead of a legitimate sector of the agricultural industry as well as taking away its independence and right to self-determination for the industry.

Right now cockfighting is being controlled by governors in conspiracy or collaboration with mayors. Rules, permits and schedules of operations are dependent on what the local official says. Rules, laws and schedules governing cockpits and cockfights should be set by law, a governing body and not by whim or corrupt intent.

If other sporting bodies are allowed to have their commissions and governing bodies, the billion-peso industry of sabong in the Philippines should be allowed to revive its Gamefowl Commission. At the very least, such a commission can work towards promoting farms, bio-security, benefits and well-being of farm hands, cockpit personnel as well as support from the Department of Agriculture, particularly in the marketing and transport of gamefowl breeding materials here and abroad.

Some individuals have complained to me that sabong in some areas is not allowed by governors or mayors who, on the other hand, air their own version of E-sabong in their town or provinces. In the meantime, there is now a modified version of E-sabong in many parts of the country in spite of the declaration of the past administration that it should be stopped and it should be banned.

While I am a gamefowl breeder, I have not set foot in any cockpit in the last 35 years. There are many of us backyard enthusiasts who just love to care, raise and breed gamefowl. I am not opposed to those who participate in cockfights or derbies nor am I against promoters and organizers. My only position is that we restore the Philippine Gamefowl Commission and be represented by true enthusiasts and sportsmen, not gamblers and not politicians!

UNCHR

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