Saturday, August 17, 2019

Malilong: The gunfight and other crime stories

The Other Side

I THOUGHT I had become inured to reports of violence since they’re staple fare in our newspaper pages. I discovered I was wrong.

I was out of the country for barely nine days but the succession of violent deaths happening in Cebu during my brief absence was simply too close, it could not but shock you especially since the victims were not the ordinary drug suspects who usually ended up dead when they try to shoot it out with the police.

There was Mary Ann Castro, the assistant prosecutor who was gunned down while driving her car. She was a controversial figure as everybody knows. (She once had me subpoenaed to testify in a libel case that she filed against two brothers and which I commented on in my column. I still think that I wasted my time on the witness stand, being asked questions like what time do I write my columns, when and how do I transmit them to the editors but we remained cordial even after that.)

Even if she would probably have never won Miss Congeniality, Mary Ann’s death was lamentable, first because she was a human being, second because she was a colleague but most of all because it impacted negatively on our community’s reputation even if not for the first time.

Then came the gunfight between two estranged friends that resulted in death to both and the father of one. They had exchanged messages that were either insulting or threatening before the incident but I thought we had passed that age when personal slights were settled by a duel.

I just read that the lawyer of one of the parties claimed that his client and, by extension, the people who accompanied him to the house of the other, were the victims, not the aggressors and that the only reason his friends and relatives went with him was because they wanted to pacify him.

That’s a little strange because when you pacify someone you do it earlier, meaning before arrival at the place of confrontation, but maybe this one is a different case where behavior does not necessarily follow the urgings of human nature. My only wish is that our justice delivery system works before the family feud escalates.

In between the two incidents was the death of a young woman supposedly from drug use. The reports I read while in Melbourne were that she was with her boyfriend when she collapsed during a party and after allegedly taking a party drug. There are so many loose ends to tie up and the boyfriend would have been a rich and direct source of information but he is nowhere to be found. Walang forever?

Finally, there was the ambush on the San Fernando mayor that saw three dead, including the mayor’s husband. So many angles are being looked into, according to the police, which could mean that the investigation will take more time that everybody would have wished to see.

In the meantime, San Fernando residents are on tenterhooks since the slay of their ABC president, Nonoy Reluya, was not the first violent death to befall a town official. You cannot blame the police for any delay; their hands are full with other equally important concerns, their resources stretched. It is simply just what it is.

Many years ago, a relative of my wife, who planned on coming home for a brief visit from the United States, called his siblings with an unusual request: could they please provide for a security escort while he and his wife were here? I laughed when I learned about it, believing that he was overreacting.

If he had called now, I would not have been as incredulous.


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