smoke

I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

Red Cross

redcross

Filed under: crime, international, law and order, news, ,

Thuggery

I have nothing against Muslims. I do not think that they are any worse or any better than any Christian. But I do have something against many Muslim politicians from Mindanao. 

I’ve been there and most of the politicians I’ve met were either blatantly corrupt or sneakily so. Invariably, however, they evidenced incredible arrogance and an unmistakeable disdain for everyone else. They considered themselves gods and the rest of us, little ants that they can easily trample underfoot when we give them any kind of slight – whether real or imagined.

And so I feel for Decidido.

Yesterday, she recounted in harrowing detail how Nasser Pangandaman Jr. – the Mayor of Masiu in Lanao del Sur – and his band of goons beat up her father after a run-in on the golf course.

My brother and I were playing golf at the South Course of Valley. We were on the 3rd hole, and we see two golf carts going past us, overtaking our flight, and setting up to tee off on the next hole. My dad goes up to them and asks them why they would do that, why they would overtake us without even asking for our permission. Golf etiquette 101. One of the guys says that they’re with the flight in front of us. (So what? That doesn’t give them the right to just pass us WITHOUT asking.)

The mayor of Masiu City, Lanao del Sur talks with my dad. Things get heated up. Voices were raised. But never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine that someone would pull out a punch. Apparently not. He attacks my father. His flightmates, maybe 2 or 3 of them, rush to his aid and beat up my father. My 56-year-old father. My younger brother and I could not just watch. We rushed to break the fight. My younger brother pleads to the mayor to please stop it. To not hurt my dad. To just stop. His words still ring through my head…”Sorry na po, sorry na po…tama na…tama na po…” With his hands in front of his chest in a praying position. PLEADING. The mayor socks him in the face. My brother defended himself. My dad is still on the ground getting clobbered. My brother is the same way. I try to stop the fight, but all I can do is stop one person. There were 4 or 5 of them attacking now.

Someone breaks up the fight. I thought it was all over. The mayor shouts to his caddy: “Hindi nila kami kilala! Sabihin mo nga sa kanila kung sino ako!” 

My mom and my older brother come. I tell her (my brother’s) right ear is bleeding (from the beating). They both look like they could kill. My dad holds my brother off, I hold off my mom. When I finally got my mom under control, my older brother gets away and I hold him off. Two of the mayor’s bodyguards pull out guns. I embraced my brother from the back, just holding him back, crying. The receptionists came to us, crying, hugging me, my dad, and my mom, whispering to us to just leave. “Maam, umalis na po kayo, may mga baril sila…Maam…umalis na po kayo please…”

So there you have it. In Mindanao – or at least in Masiu – a thug sits as Chief Executive. A man who – in a fit of rage at not being recognized and kow-towed to – attacks an old man and his young son.

This brute insults Islam with his every breath.

Filed under: crime, news, , , ,

Do we forgive?

The release of Claudio Teehankee Jr. certainly kicked up a shit-storm, dint it? Now, whether it was clemency or his sentence ran out, I think the reaction would not have been different. In the end, it’s not how he got released that really matters. What matters is that he got out of the hole that we put him in so that society could forget about him; he got out of the oubliette.

Parenthetically, the same reaction rippled through genteel society when the Ilaga Manero went free.

Y’see, that’s what a prison is, in the gospel according to Rom: a place where a loathsome person is placed so that the rest of the people can forget what they know they can be. Wiesel (I think) wrote about the banality of evil. Teehankee – with his droopy eyes – is proof of that. Beneath that placid exterior, Teehankee was obviously capable of explosive evil. In that, he is not too different from most of us. That’s what makes him so repulsive. And that’s the raw nerve his release touched. 

And that’s why the death penalty is necessary. We don’t forgive. We try to forget, but as soon as we are reminded of these criminals, we are just as angry as we used to be. Wouldn’t it be better then, to just speed them on their way off this mortal coil? That would help to forget the bad man, and it would be more economical too, not to put too fine a point on it.

Paradoxically, our inability to forgive is also a very good justification for the abolition of the death penalty. In many cases, it is infinitely more satisfying to forget him with the knowledge that the bad man is suffering in prison than to know for a fact that he is dead and, therefore, beyond our hatred. Hence the outrage at Teehankee’s release and the recentlypublished photos of his prison cell. We feel that he never suffered in the first place, and now he’s free, presumably with access to his family’s money and the good life that money can bring. It rubs our sense of poetic justice all wrong. 

The way to get these two ideas together, I suppose, would be to remove the Constitutional prohibition against cruel and inhuman punishments. I mean, think about it. We kill the bad guy so that we never have to forgive him (and all the usual arguments like, ‘so he can’t do it again’); and we do it with the utmost pain possible so as to satisfy our wish for him to suffer. And never mind the bad guy’s rights. I mean, he lost his right to be treated humanely when he showed himself less than human, didn’t he?

Instead of the relatively quick and painless death by lethal injection then, how about …

  • Death by firing squad, where the firing squad doesn’t shoot all at once. The guy’ll prolly be shiting his pants wondering whether the next shot will be the one that kills him; 
  • Multi-day execution where you do the firing squad russian roulette thing, but make sure that on day one, there will be no real kill; and
  • Death by ant-bite. Yeesh. That’d be something. This one I’d reserve for child rapists.

Under this theory, I imagine Teehankee could be executed by ant-bite. I’d have said death by starving pigs, but that’d be so Hannibal Lecter.

Filed under: crime, law and order, society, , , , ,

Frontier Justice

Nothing against the cops who shot and killed some of the suspects in the RCBC killings, but that sort of frontier justice doesn’t satisfy. Worse, what if the cops were wrong? What if those weren’t the guys who did it? If not, then the real assholes are still out there, laughing their heads off at getting away scot-free.

If only the cops had not been so fucking trigger-happy, they could have had an unequivocal winner once they captured the killers. Instead, by bringing everything to such an abrupt and gruesome end, they just might have wrested defeat from the jaws of victory.

I’m sure the families would have preferred knowing for sure it was these men that did it. But now, when will that truth ever come out?

Filed under: crime, law and order, , ,

Gunless

In the aftermath of the murders in Laguna, the gun-less society folks have started coming out of the woodwork. But honestly, what good will it do?

This morning, a guy named Nandy(?) Pacheco was ranting and raving on radio (hey! awesome alliteration!) about how his group – something called the “Gunless Society” – has been advocating a total gun ban. When he explained a little further, it turned out that it was nothing of the kind. They will still allow private gun ownership, but they won’t allow the issuance of permits to carry or PTCs.

Basically, you need two licences if you have a gun: a licence to possess the firearm, and a permit to carry it around with you. If you don’t have the first one, your possession would be illegal. If you have the first but not the second, your possession would be legal but the gun will have to stay wherever you put it first – such as your home or your office. Having both licences means your possession is legal and you can bring the gun around with you wherever you go.

So, the Gunless Society’s solution will actually still allow you to have guns, only you can’t carry it with you. According to them, that’ll cut down on gun related crimes. And that’s where it gets funny. By definition, a law (or a policy) that prohibits either the private ownership or transportation of weapons will be respected only by people who obey the law anyway. And these are the same people who don’t do things like massacre people or go Columbine on your ass for no reason at all. Criminals – those guys who don’t obey the law – will hardly feel the passage of gun control laws for the simple reason that they don’t bother with niceties like that.

Verily, I have often laughed at the weaklings who thought themselves good because they had no claws.

And so, the net effect of the Gunless Society’s proposition – or its eponymous ultimate goal – will be to deprive law-abiding citizens of their guns, while leaving law-breakers armed to the teeth. Seriously, I don’t see how that is going to make life safer for the rest of us when the threat from guns doesn’t come from accidents or such things, but from people who have made the conscious and deliberate decision to point, shoot, and kill. Guns, as they say, don’t kill people. People kill people.

~

The most commonly repeated argument against the “guns for defense” argument is that it’s pretty pointless when all it takes is one bullet to snuff you out. True enough. But just like seatbelts won’t do a damned thing for you if you drive your car off a cliff but will transform certain fatal crashes into survivable accidents (like if you wrapped your car around a tree or something), having a gun will help ensure your continued survival if you’re lucky enough to survive the initial blow. That is a very important thing.

~

My heart goes out to those who were killed in that bank robbery; and my heart bleeds for the Balisong and Pili families who were killed in Laguna just last night – but gun control won’t help them out any more than it’ll help us out. I wish people would stop using them as posthumous poster-children for a naive and wistful advocacy like a gunless society. Guns are like the demons in Pandora’s box. Once we’ve learned how to use them and profit by them, we can’t simply wish them away.

I wish I could present a solution – a better alternative to just praying for justice and agitating for gun control – but I’ve got nothing. And even if I had any proposal, I wouldn’t want to go into it just yet. Y’see, right now, I’m dancing too close to the edge of my principles and I might end up endorsing a course of action that I would – under less clouded circumstances – never even consider.

Filed under: crime, law and order, society, , ,

What justice?

Roberto Panganiban Castro. Ferdinand Bernard Antonio. Benjamin Manalo Nicdao Jr. Bernardo Lapaan Jr. Noel Olaes Miranda. Juan Marza Layva. Aguilando Baltazar. Olga Gonzalez. Teresita Umayao. Isagani Pastor.

You’ll probably forget those names not five minutes after you’ve read them. But that isn’t what they deserve. These were people killed by people who wanted money that wasn’t theirs and who didn’t want anyone getting in their way or maybe screwing up their enjoyment of the money they stole.

Everyone agrees that these 10 people deserve justice. Of course they do. But what good is justice for them now? What good is justice for their families? And besides, what justice?

The President has ordered that the killers should, as Lorelei Fajardo put it, be brought to the bar of justice. Excellent soundbite, which is about all it is, because if you were to really bite into those nice words, you would find no meat, no substance. Just air.

How many times have we heard it said that this or that killer will be brought before the bar of justice? And yet the list of the unavenged grows longer everyday, while the list of those who have been actually held to account grows – if at all – only at a snail’s pace. The words disconnect with reality.

I’m sure the President meant it; who wouldn’t? But there is a difference between wanting something to happen – such as wanting to bring murderers to justice for instance – and that thing actually happening. And so it is particularly galling when the President “vows” to bring justice when she must know that her government has so far had a dismal record in that department. It just rings too hollow, Madame. And it tastes like ashes on our tongues.

Far better, I think, for everyone whose appointed duty it is to protect the lives of Filipinos, to just hang their heads in shame. Their mortification will mean much more than empty condolences and fist-shaking vows of righteous vengeance.

In the meantime, add these names to the list of the unavenged.

Roberto Panganiban Castro. Ferdinand Bernard Antonio. Benjamin Manalo Nicdao Jr. Bernardo Lapaan Jr. Noel Olaes Miranda. Juan Marza Layva. Aguilando Baltazar. Olga Gonzalez. Teresita Umayao. Isagani Pastor.

Filed under: crime, law and order, , ,