King assassination

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Sunday, June 15, 2014


CEBU businessman Richard King probably thought he was safe in Davao City. No bodyguards followed him around. The building where he briefed his Vital C people had no CCTV.  Yes, the head of a fast-growing real estate and hotel conglomerate felt Davao City was one place he could move around safely.

But no, Davao Mayor Digong Duterte’s vaunted solution against crime failed. The lone gunman entered the building, went to the room where King was speaking before employees, and shot him twice at close range.

I could still remember a Cebu broadcaster proposing to Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Noli Romana the Duterte solution to crime during a recent 888 Forum. Apparently, the tough Duterte stance proved a failure against determined criminals.

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With King’s death, I believe Cebu and the tourism industry lost a visionary who dreamed and made into a reality the possibility of swinging from one skyscraper to another using a zipline. My daughter who was joining climbing competitions years back said she has yet to climb a wall as good as the one atop Club Ultima. The package of attractions atop the Club Ultima building has drawn tourists through the years.

Security was tight when King’s body arrived in Cebu and brought to the St. Peter’s Funeral Homes on Imus last Saturday morning. But the bigger consideration should be, would Philippine law enforcement agencies succeed in solving the King case? Would not this be an addition to our growing pile of unsolved assassinations?

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CCPO Director Romana tried hard to project a positive image of performance. He likewise urged ordinary citizens to provide police with information. However, Romana needs to address first the perception of policemen getting their weekly share from syndicates. This perception won’t go away with mere press statements and media posturing when people see men in uniform frequenting houses of suspected lords.

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I am glad Cebu did not fail the call for protests against the pork barrel last June 12. In talking about pork barrel, I am not merely referring to the PDAF that certain congressmen and senators realigned as lump sums to line agencies. The pork barrel system is intrinsic to patronage politics.

Protests in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao should tell both the administration and opposition that pork barrel is nearing its end.

Personally, I considered it a test at whether I can rely on people who are vocal online. I expected less participation from church groups and student organizations last Thursday. Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma’s call would be for the Aug. 23 people’s congress and people’s initiative launch in Cebu. There will also be classes by then.

Still, one major challenge for anti-pork advocates is the perception that the pork barrel has benefited ordinary folks.

I very well recall my support for Totol Batuhan last year because of his anti-pork barrel advocacy. However, ordinary citizens gave more weight to material benefits like scholarships.

With plunder cases filed against an initial set of suspects, I am hoping attention would segue to how these suspected officials spent the P10 billion the government lost like the condos they bought. Perhaps, investigators including members of media would also begin asking about bank deposits and possible money laundering schemes.

The suspects, meanwhile, are not resting. Look how Sen. Jinggoy Estrada continues to use the Senate as a platform for throwing mud at his accusers. Sen. Bong Revilla, on the other hand, showed a mushy farewell video. Haha!
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Good that Gov. Junjun Davide has seen the light. Black Pearl Security Agency did not deserve his support.

However, I also realized that the governor would only be convinced a security agency is not fit to win a Capitol contract when he gets reports about guards sleeping and firing shots by mistake. Talks about non-compliance with bidding requirements raised alarm bells. However, Junjun remained unperturbed. He even said the importation was aboveboard.

This episode, however, showed that anomalies could happen at the Provincial Capitol. Governor Davide should not hold on to supposed trusted men that expose him to this kind of embarrassment. He should take care of the moral ascendancy he had over the past administration.

(Follow @anol_cebu in Twitter)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 16, 2014.

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