The ‘Vhong’ case

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014


THE Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are nearing a historic bend in their negotiation to end the decades-old war in Muslim Mindanao. But that story does not seem to be what is catching the public’s attention. Instead, people’s interest is on the mauling case involving actor Vhong Navarro.

But I won’t flog Filipinos for losing perspective.

I list myself as middle class or “petiburgis,” so I view things differently from the majority, derisively called by the elite as the “bakya” crowd or, in less derogative manner, the “masa.” The “bakya” tends to shun complicated issues and favors the simple ones. That doesn’t mean the elite think better.

Showbiz stories grip the “masa” even more so than political issues. I think many would agree to that contention. Yet I also know that many intellectuals follow with interest showbiz news; they just pretend to look the other way for fear of being labeled “bakya.”

Having said that, I would say that I didn’t know that Vhong Navarro’s first name is Ferdinand. Why he uses “Vhong” as screen name and not Ferdie beats me, although another Ferdinand (Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.) is called “Bongbong.”

Or more specifically, why “Vhong” instead of “Bong,” as in Bong Wenceslao or Bong Revilla (by the way, there’s a “Vhong”-“Bong” joke that is currently being spread by anti-PNoy netizens).

Which reminds me of veteran journalist Juan Mercado when Sir Johnny went less serious in a column or two. He mentioned something about the Filipinos’ penchant for putting an “H” in their names to make these sound exotic. So that’s probably why monotonous “Bong” became exotic “Vhong.”

Anyway, details on the mauling are starting to surface, although this seems to have become a “he said, she said” thing. Navarro said his piece last Sunday while Deniece Cornejo, the woman who was at the center of the incident, and Cedric Lee, the alleged leader of the group who mauled Vhong, presented their side yesterday.

There are those who believe that the truth is in the middle, meaning that both Navarro on one side and Cornejo and Lee on the other were not purely truthful in their statements. So we need to have law enforcers to piece the truth together.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has reportedly initiated their own investigation of the incident, which happened at a high-end condo unit in Taguig City.

Not to be outdone, the Taguig police are also doing their own probing, which is awkward considering that when the incident was first blottered as attempted rape that was amicably settled, they didn’t even had enough interest to look deeper into the matter.

I won’t dwell on who was truthful or who was lying on this issue. That is something for the police or the NBI to look into. What caught my interest here is the physical abuse inflicted on a person by what looked like rich thugs. It does not matter whether the one mauled is a celebrity or not. That such an incident happened is what should be a concern.

We raised the same concern when an ordinary man, Mario Alfie Ducayag, was mauled by security officers of Gaisano Metro-Colon last year. Unlike Navarro, Ducayag did not survive the mauling. But like the mall’s security officers, the thugs who mauled Navarro did not immediately turn over the “suspect” to the police. (Ducayag was accused of shoplifting while Navarro was accused of attempting to rape a woman.)

The admonition that one should not take the law into his/her hand is not an empty admonition. Being aggrieved should not give one the license to maul or kill somebody.

That’s why I oppose vigilantism. The idea is for law and order, not chaos, to prevail.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 28, 2014.

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