John H. Pope: the mind of a killer-A A +A
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
CANADIAN national John Holdridge Pope claimed he was a journalist, and he must have been considering his output: documents and letters sent to various media outlets and concerned government offices in Cebu through the years. Those articles and writings could, in a way, allow one to piece together the thinking of the man who went on a shooting rampage at the Palace of Justice last Tuesday.
In April last year, Pope sent a thick plastic folder to Sun.Star Cebu containing photocopies of affidavits, newspaper clippings and writings, some of them with annotation, intended to present his side of the cases he is facing and what he went through since 2009. He wrote about “corrupt” cops, prosecutors and immigration officials. I thought these were mere ranting—-until he shot some of the objects of his rage.
“Sometimes you get a chance to take a stand for the human race,” Pope quoted the Max Von Sydow character in the movie “Snow Falling on Cedars.” The quotation and a few others served as intro to a 17-page writing he titled “Justice Denied.” The film, he said, tackled racial hatred that had “several similarities” to his case.
Pope’s storytelling was sometimes disjointed and obscure, but he did succeed in portraying the full gamut of his emotions in relation to the cases he was facing. The plot mainly involved his conflict with the officials of the homeowners association of the condominium where he was residing and the subsequent tug-of-war that eventually drew in officials of concerned government offices and law enforcers.
That among those he shot before he himself died was the homeowners’ association head and the latter’s lawyer (a prosecutor is in critical condition) showed the height the conflict had reached.
“On the poverty front,” Pope wrote, “I have spent at least P3 million helping single-parent mothers and their children in the 14 years I have lived here.” He described himself as a “65-year-old man (who) has suffered a heart attack and is slowly dying from a deteriorating heart condition with a heart 30 percent larger than the high end of the normal range.” That, and his worries about being deported, seemed to affect him.
“What happens if the subsequent fight for justice reveals even more corruption and injustice which this man is determined to fight?” he asked. “Do you continue to stand by and do nothing while this person is deported for having the courage to fight for justice against corruption?”
Incidentally, Pope admitted that a 30-year-old woman who is now living in Sagay City, Negros Oriental was his former girlfriend/lover. He helped her financially to finish high school in Minglanilla town. She would later claim that her daughter, now 7, was Pope’s child. DNA testing proved that to be false, but he treated her as his daughter nevertheless.
“When the (complainant and his lawyer) proposed that I leave the country in exchange for them dropping the charges,” Pope wrote, “I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I told them my family was here and I was never leaving.”
Pope ended his piece with an italicized paragraph that, on hindsight, seemed to be a portent of things to come:
“If there is any general lesson to be learned here, it has to be that violence begets violence. That if a person, be it Filipino or foreigner, is allowed to be harassed 250 times with the last 200 coming after it was common knowledge that the senior citizen had suffered a heart attack, without any help from neighbors, police or the courts, you should not be surprised to see an escalation of the problems as the dying person fights for justice.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 23, 2013.