Deaths in Auckland

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Friday, June 20, 2014


AS I settled to work on June 18 at the Auckland High Court, I saw Antonio Gotingco and his family outside conversing with supporters of the silent protest seeking justice for Blessie Gotingco, who was murdered on May 24 while she was on her way home.

Unlike in the memorial walk for Blessie on May 31 that had about 2,000 participants, the assembly outside the court had less than 30 people due maybe to the rain and it being a work day. But even with the low turnout, the spirit of those who came remained high.

They brought placards while protest organizer Tracey Clarke had a bullhorn to keep them and the media informed about the cause that they were fighting for. Among the messages displayed were: “Justice for Blessie,” Life for a life,” “Murderers time is lifetime” and “Shame on the judicial system.”

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I talked with Antonio. he said that he was there to show support to those seeking justice for his wife but had no intention to be present in the courtroom where the accused would enter his plea. It was the right decision. The accused had to be removed from the court by security after swearing loudly in the presence of Justice Timothy Brewer.

But most of the protesters were disappointed by the judge’s order suppressing the man’s identity and more so for scheduling the three-week trial in March 2015, or ten months from the time of the commission of the crime.

The Gotingco family, though, remained mum regarding the judge’s orders.

John, one of Blessie’s son, said that they were happy that people have taken up the cause of his mother. "We hope it (her mother’s death) will be a catalyst for change in dealing with crime in New Zealand," he added.

Husband Antonio for his part stated, "I just want to see justice for my wife and safety for all."

Alvin Soniega, a columnist of the Filipino magazine, BAYANiZ, said that he joined the protest action because he is against the current justice system that sets unreformed criminals free to commit crime again.

Interviewed on national radio, Soniega expressed the hoped that politicians would make changes in the law to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

While Aucklanders were still reeling from the Gotingco murder, a 57-year-old shopkeeper, during an attempted robbery, was killed infront of his wife by a 13-year old youth at 7:30 in the morning on June 11 along a major thoroughfare in West Auckland. The boy was caught by the police within the day and was charged in court.

With the spate of deaths and rise in criminality, there seems to be a change in people’s perception on safety in the streets and public places. And it has not been helpful that politicians have not taken issue about these and are instead busying themselves for the elections in three months’ time.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 21, 2014.

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