MANY people were repelled by the "hero's burial" given to Jeffrey "Jaguar" Diaz last June 27.
Actually, what made it look like one was the huge crowd, a magnitude seen only at funerals of widely admired persons. But no flag draped on coffin, no gun salute or taps, no Libingan ng mga Bayani amenities. Just the big throng of people sending off a "merchant of death."
But who were the mourners? Those helped by Jaguar with money he profited allegedly from drug dealing.
Did he do it from sheer goodness of heart? Maybe but more likely he did it for a practical purpose. He knew enough of Robin Hood syndrome and exploits of drug cartel chief Pablo Escobar of Colombia to use a basic tool of the trade: protection money to the poor.
Jaguar presumably bribed some police, prosecutors and judges. He might have also bribed the folks at Duljoo-Fatima, Cebu City where he lived.
But nobody called it bribe money. His beneficiaries would bristle over the suggestion they were paid. It was manna, not heaven-sent but given by someone wallowing in illegal cash. And Jaguar to them was a hero who helped in times of need.
Was he a social bandit? Nah. Jaguar was not forced to break the law and didn't suffer from any oppression that pushed him to fight back.
Like Monsieur Hood in "Shrek," he was just giving away a "wee percentage" of his loot. His work of charity? Part of the price of survival, along with the pay-offs to public officials, a slice of the budget to keep himself from being locked up.
What must still stun outsiders was how Duljo-Fatimans could disregard the great harm inflicted by illegal drugs, mostly on the young.
Occasional pang of conscience, very likely, but suppressed by the feeling of being shut out by government and society.
Jaguar, like some politicians we know, tapped discontent and alienation of people, the multitude that buried him.