On vacation, hazing and impunity Daily Tribune

On vacation, hazing and impunity Featured

WE just came from a hectic vacation in Iloilo, Roxas, Jawili and Boracay. We flew roundabout Davao-Cebu-Iloilo by Philippine Airlines, as the Cebu Pacific direct flight schedule for Davao-Iloilo was inconvenient. I was to acquaint my wife Sylvia with the delights of each area’s famous seafood cuisine on this gastronomic tour. We decided we needed to do this with urgency, while still ambulatory and can still remember each other’s name. We rented a van at the Iloilo Airport to take us around the city for sightseeing. Iloilo was more beautiful than the last time I saw it. The Esplanade was something that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio can emulate for the Piapi district and Quezon Boulevard in her city, or in the Bankerohan area beside the Davao River. All it takes is the vaunted Duterte “political will” or short of it, punching her way through the quagmire of informal settlers.

Coastal Road turo-turo
But as to the main purpose of the tour, I will reprint my Facebook post: “Lunch in the Iloilo Coastal Road resto was a disaster! No diwal, no lobster, no fat alimango, the oysters were catatonic and the pasayan were anemic. And while eating, you have to compete with the ubiquitous flies. This is what I get for relying on a gourmet, our hired van driver to Roxas, who convinced us to eat at his favorite place. Hahaha! We definitely went to the wrong place. The Iloilo I knew was elegant, grand and snobbish! Well, win some, lose some. Babawi na lang kami in Roxas tonight with Jimmy.”

Jimmy San Agustin, my grade and high school classmate was the perfect host in Roxas, backed up by Tony Santos — his coffee buddy, an amiable man who gave us a 10-cent tour of the 770-hectare township right in Roxas City, owned by his son-in-law married to his graceful daughter Tina. He showed us the image of Christ on the highest promontory of Roxas, boasting that the statue was taller than the Cristo Redentor in Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro. Tony could be the perfect tour guide except for some minor flaws; “I don’t know!” was the standard answer to the four or five questions about the interesting sights and statistics: height of the Christ statue, name of the sculptor, how much it cost, who made the development plan of the township, etc. But this good and likable man gave us a river tour of his fishpond holdings.

Intermarriage of cousins
Jimmy has to rely on his three wonderful ladies, wife Baby and daughters Liza and Mariel, to give us a better grasp of the history of the place. The first thing one learns in Roxas and the province of Capiz is that the landed gentry are practically all related. The San Agustin-Balgos families are kissing cousins of the Tirol-Kimpo-Carpio-Gonzales-Santos-Roxas, just to name a few. To preserve their vast landholdings, the old families in the Philippines intermarry. I suspect some incestuously, with offspring hidden in the proverbial attic rooms, just like the old European bluebloods.

But back to that which we came for, the crustacean offerings at Jawili, Jimmy’s idyllic beachfront resort with cascading waterfalls behind his property on the road to Kalibo, are to die for — fresh and succulent, raw oysters, fat crabs, pasayan, various seashells and cockles and yellow-corn-kernel-sized lato (seaweed). Apparently such abundance is chiefly caused by Capiz fronting the Sibuyan Sea to the north of Panay Island, where Jawili and other coastal towns are strategically located towards Caticlan, the jump-off point to Boracay.

Boracay – a political will
And Boracay is something to admire after the Deegong decided to close it for six months last year to clean up the area. As the country’s premier seaside resort, it had “become a cesspool” and an environmental blight with open sewers and untreated sewage leaking out to sea. Trash was everywhere and untrammeled beachfront construction of hotel, stores, bars and restaurant flaunted commerce over public order. This is a microcosm of the Filipino at his undisciplined worst. After DU30 exercised his stern leadership and political prerogatives over the objections of the merchants, hoteliers and local politicians — a certain sense of discipline has now descended on the resort island. Roads are being improved and sidewalks have been laid over for pedestrians. But the wide beaches with the famous white fine sand is still the main come-on. This is one of the Deegong’s successes in applying his iron fist toward the pre-eminence of the rule of law.

The culture of impunity
If only he could apply this toward the second part of this article. This time I write in anger at the impunity being displayed by our uniformed men sworn to protect the people and the Constitution. Even in the languid days in Boracay, one couldn’t escape the headlines of the torture and death of a Philippine Military Academy (PMA) plebe and the culture of abuse inculcated early on our cadets, our future protectors who follow the lead of officers like Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Gen. Oscar Albayalde, who see nothing wrong with hazing.

A declaration by Senator Bato, a PMA graduate himself and former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), admitted that hazing was one of the factors that made him “tough and disciplined” as an officer. “Tine-train ang mga tao diyan para maging warriors (People are trained there to become warriors).” Now we know where DU30’s “berdugo of tokhang’ acquired his chops and his cavalier attitude toward human rights abuses!

General Albayalde, the current PNP chief, noted that “hazing is a matter of personal perception, parang (just like) accusation. These are all matters of personal perception on how you will accept it as a person and how you will accept it as a cadet.” Huh!? And this he said after the death by torture of a PMAyer. This statement is simply vague and inane — hopefully not reflective of the best of that military academy.

Albayalde explained that he was even thankful to his squad leader at the PMA, a former major general, for helping in molding him into what he is now. Which begs the question: What is he now? He has been summoned before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee for his alleged protection of 13 policemen subordinates who were accused of being “ninja cops,”or cops who sell back in the market the illegal drugs they confiscate from drug pushers, dealers and smugglers.

With these current crop of generals and leaders, graduates all of the premier military academy from which President Rodrigo Duterte has been recruiting for leadership in his Cabinet and government agencies, one begins to question whether there is madness to his method, or just simply madness

And these are the type of people whom the President must rely on, brainwashed in the classrooms and marching fields of Fort del Pilar, instilled with the tools, method and mindset of torture protected by their own code of omerta — just like any secretive mafiosi.

The corps often boast that as officers and gentlemen, “they do not lie, cheat or steal.” True, but they may have absorbed the esoteric art of “torture and mind perversion.” We didn’t buy into this!000
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