ONE early morning in the first week of June, last year, TV reporter Jinky Bargio chanced upon a group of rowdy foreigners near the old Rustan’s in Gen. Maxilom Avenue.
When she saw the men throw bottles onto the street, stop passing vehicles and harass the drivers, Jinky knew she had a good story and got out of their vehicle. Soon they were recording the commotion.
When they saw what Jinky and her crew were doing, the men took umbrage and attempted to confiscate the camera. Fortunately, the police arrived just in time to avert a confrontation between the TV crew and the foreigners who were later identified as Papua New Guineans.
They were drunk. And apparently it was not their first brush with the law because when they arrived at the Fuente Police station, one of the policemen blurted, “it’s you again?”.
In fact, there have been so many cases of Papua New Guineans, most of whom are enrolled in Cebu schools, being arrested for breach of the peace. In all these cases, they had one drink too many.
The first recorded case was that of Benedict Penini who struck a taxi driver with a stone outside the gate of the Maria Luisa Estate Park on Sept. 9, 2012. The drunken Penini had just had a fight with another Papua New Guinean when he spotted the driver and vented his ire on the poor guy.
It took a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to subdue Penini, who later complained that the cops used excessive force on him.
In 2013, two weeks after the Bargio incident, another drunken Papua New Guinean was arrested by the police for causing trouble inside a bar on A.S. Fortuna St., Bakilid in Mandaue. Jason Lokani was bloodied when the police arrived, courtesy of two unidentified men who resented the former’s breaking the bottles and hit him on the head with a stone.
Just as 2013 was ending, another group of Papua New Guineans were arrested after they brawled outside the National Bookstore in Gen. Maxilom Avenue. Jason Kerepa, Emmanuel Nagopi Naemon, Israel Wanqana Warraqo and Nigel Gwingin Dondo were booked for drunkenness and were released from jail only after paying a fine.
In April, this year, Elizah Norman, Pilol Kuman, Andi Takon and Mulea Opa Homs were arrested, again for causing trouble inside a bar where they had been drinking since 3 a.m. One of them allegedly showed his genitals to a female customer, who left the bar obviously in shock along with a male companion.
Still not contented, Homs allegedly threw a bottle at another customer, causing an ugly gash on his forehead. A companion of the customer retaliated by stabbing Homs.
When the police arrived, the Papua New Guineans ran away but were caught near the gate of the Sto. Niño Village while arguing with the village security guard.
Then last Saturday, Gary Nigel Chrich was arrested after he allegedly punched a bar employee in (again!) Gen. Maxilom Avenue. When the police arrived and tried to subdue him, the fellow resisted and punched the neck of one of them. As you must have guessed, Chrich is from Papua New Guinea (Port Moresby) and tested positively for alcohol.
I am not trying to stereotype Papua New Guineans but I cannot help but notice that while they’re relatively few, they seem to have the most cases of brushes with the law, compared with other foreigners. In fairness to them, all of these cases are “minor incidents” which happen only when they are drunk.
The Papua New Guineans in Cebu are fun-seeking and are otherwise well-behaved when they are sober. When they get drunk, however, the behavior changes dramatically.
Mag-maoy dayon inigkainom og hata-hata.