Editorial: Pope’s last charge-A A +A
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
OF THE few things we know about John Pope, we can report that he introduced himself as a retired journalist who was born in Minnesota, but studied and worked in Canada. He was retired by the time he spent the last 15 years in Cebu, most of it on a special retiree’s visa.
He would have turned 67 today.
These are details Pope himself supplied in a series of letters and files he sent to media outlets last year. But on the eve of his birthday, Pope walked into a Cebu City courtroom as it opened for work yesterday. There, he shot Dr. Rene Rafols, who had charged him with malicious mischief, and the doctor’s counsel, Jubian Achas.
Pope then walked to a separate courtroom, where he fired at Assistant Prosecutor Maria Theresa Casiño. Only Casiño survived the assault. The police said they fired at Pope in self-defense, but that he then shot himself in the temple.
At the start, the parties were involved in nothing more than a dispute between neighbors. Dr. Rafols was president of a condominium homeowners’ association whose property manager Pope had accused of stealing funds. That was around November 2009.
What followed was a series of interconnected cases, which included Pope filing complaints against some police officials and some prosecutors. For that, he went to the Office of the Ombudsman, the Bureau of Immigration and the Department of Justice.
But while Pope tried to present himself as an anti-corruption crusader, he also faced a battery of cases that included trespass to dwelling, assault under a law that punishes violence against women, and illegal possession of a firearm. That last part, he admitted, saying he needed the gun for self-defense.
A common thread in all these documents Pope sent to local journalists was his request to take a lie detector test. He had hoped this would establish that he was telling the truth, although he was told that such a test would not stand in court.
For the safety of everyone who seeks the court’s protection, the authorities will have to find out how Pope brought two loaded handguns into the court building, despite a gun ban and what were supposed to be strict security checks at the entrances.
And for the peace of mind of all involved, authorities will also have to review how well and how fairly Pope’s complaints were handled. No justification exists for the killing of one’s rivals in a court of law. But if anything could have been done to keep him from pulling the trigger, it is best to know what these are.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 23, 2013.