Tuesday, December 30, 2008


It doesn't matter if the elder De La Paz did start the fight or if the 14 year old kid joined in. The fact is that the armed bodyguards of a public official beat up an old man and his teenage kid while the daughter watched. 

Of course the Pangandamans's belated account of the incident fails to hold water. The old guy hit you with an umbrella, really? The mother, in her duster, attacked a grown man with a posse of bodyguards with an icepick, really? She allegedly showed up after being called to action by her husband. 

Really? All those high-powered weapons and none of you thought of brandishing them to give the attackers pause? You're dealing with golfers, not huramentados. Are we supposed to believe that your huge bodyguards needed to beat a guy and his kid up to neutralize them?

Any trained military type could probably disarm and immobilize an old man and a kid with minimal harm. In fact, that's what real bodyguards are supposed to be trained to do. The only reason for them to beat the De La Pazes up is if they wanted to vent their anger or "teach them a lesson." And while that tactic may work in their turf, the city is another place altogether. 

Here, people (especially the middle class) still cling to the belief that might doesn't necessarily make right. As MLQ3 puts it:

So we have here a clear clash of civilizations: between the entitlement and warlord culture of the provinces, which compels obedience by force, and which doesn’t hesitate to use that force to compel submission by anyone who isn’t part of the ruling clan’s pecking order of enforcers; and the national capital culture which expects self-control of officialdom, which doesn’t think twice about standing up to official bullying; which, even if beaten to a pulp thinks it’s possible to rally support from like-minded people who actually believe in justice and notions of equality -because there are more decent people than the bad.

Commenters in the various blogs wonder about the sudden outrage. There are several reasons, not the least of which is it's the holiday break and most of us are spending a great part of our days online doing, well, stuff. We will jump on anything that sounds mildly interesting.

But the bigger reason is that the incident itself scares cityfolk like me. Urbanites who are aware of, but have never experienced, the impunity with which people like Nasser Pangandaman flaunt their wealth and power in their territories. 

The fact that it happened in a golf course makes it scarier. The De La Pazes were not activists organizing peasants or journalists picking fights; they were playing golf, railing against a breach of etiquette and got beat up for it because they failed to show the "proper deference" to a person they didn't recognize (Oo, hindi ka nila kilala). 

And for that the armed bodyguards of a public official beat up an old man and his teenage kid while the daughter watched. Really.

No comments: