By November 17, 2020Opinion, Punchline

Refuse to be killed easily

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


THE killing of another newsman in Vir Maganes sent another shockwave in our midst. And so did the killing of RTC Judge Maria Teresa Abadilla. While the slaying of the two happened under very different circumstances, the message is crystal clear that no judge or media practitioner can no longer ignore or deny.

To be in legal practice or in media, the risks are the same – there will always be someone who will want to get even not by just eliminating us but by hurting our loved-ones whom we will leave behind, and worse, plan to get away with it. The question is: how can we stop this growing culture of impunity, of killing media practitioners and judges to thwart efforts to preserve justice, order and peace?

The only answer I can think of is – at least make it difficult for the hitmen to carry out their mission for the money, make it a deadly risk for them as well! Perhaps, 90% of the time, the hitmen can get us, but we must allow ourselves the 10% to be able to hit back if only to enable authorities have enough clues to identify the mastermind if one of the hitmen get a bullet, too.

“But how?” Both media practitioners and judges are likely to ask even if the answer is already staring back at us.

First, as SunTzu correctly taught the Art of War to millions, we, too, must learn and know the mindset of hitmen, learn how they think, work, how and where they operate. There are experts in protective business, among them the professional police security details of VIPs: they know the basic defensive tactics on how to detect and avoid likely set-ups for the perfect ambush… and react when ambushed if the hitman misses the first time. Forget about asking for any police detail that is not trained to protect anyone. We can only rely on ourselves to be trained with the help of trained experts. Both the IBP and media associations should be able to organize such a seminar for judges and us, practitioners.

Second, owning a handgun may not save our lives but if given the opportunity, it can still be useful to make the risks of being eliminated by someone greater. A training in gun handling is essential if one must own a gun. It’s useless to own and carry one without a trained hand and a disciplined mind.

The choices and the lessons are there for media practitioners and judges to respond to this question: Will you allow yourself to be an easy target? Because one thing is certain, there are hitmen willing to do a job for the right price, and there’s nothing and nobody to stop them but US – mediamen and judges – the targets.

Is training and arming one’s self aggravating the situation of impunity? The only answer I can think of is – try debating it after you are killed senselessly.

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DOWNGRADING QUALITY OF SERVICE. Over the week, I read a news report about the plan of the Civil Service Commission to lower the passing grade for the civil service exams. I was dumbfounded by it. I thought the mandate of the CSC is to see to it that only the brightest qualify for a government job. That news just threw all that to the garbage bin.  

It is bad enough that we have government employees who can’t even think on their feet, much less have the initiative to deliver prompt and efficient service to the public, and here is our CSC willing to officially accommodate more of these unmotivated with limited educational background officially. 

The news alarmed me even greatly when I found myself confronted by a situation at the NBI branch office in Dagupan, a situation that was obviously created by civil service employees at the NBI headquarters in Manila.  

I was applying for an NBI clearance last week that was required of me to renew my firearm license. To my surprise, I was again initially denied (for the third time over the past 7 years) for the same reason –  a libel case dismissed more than 15 years ago that NBI HQ did not have the mind to delete even after I was cleared of it twice in the past (with a document that proved the libel case no longer had any bearing since it was long dismissed). The fact that NBI records show that I was issued two clearances did not matter at all, I was not given the benefit of the doubt that I was entitled to an NBI clearance based on their database. What was truly irritating was the fact that in both instances in the past, I was assured that the questionable data will be removed from the database. Well, four years later today, that long terminated libel case has not been deleted.     

The NBI in Dagupan said it can’t do anything but to seek clearance anew from the head office in order to clear me of this “hit” all because some lazy civil service employees at the NBI HQ did not care to update what their colleagues in Dagupan did. How can such a simple administrative task – to update and correct a record – be overlooked? Or was it simply a case of indifference or sloth?  

As I left the office without the needed NBI clearance in my hand, I started to wonder how many more like me are similarly situated, who continue to be inconvenienced over the years because of some unthinking, ill-qualified unmotivated government employees who don’t deserve to be in NBI? 

And now comes the CSC wanting to employ more of them?? God help us!

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WANTED: MARSHALS FOR HEALTH PROTOCOL. It’s reassuring to know that some mayors, like Villasis Mayor Nonato Abrenica, are trying anything to help contain the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. A P50 reward may not mean much but it surely does the trick of making public awareness towards need to wear face masks and shields in public areas and to observe social distancing, higher and effective.

In Dagupan City, the word around is that law enforcers in civilian clothes are picking up persons caught violating health and safety protocols in public places, and made to pay P200 fine. Whether this is sanctioned by the city council or the city mayor has to be validated but it is in the right direction. We need such marshals not only in commercial districts but in our small communities in barangays.

COVID-19 is here to stay and a possible surge in cases can always happen if our local governments let their guard down anytime.

As things stand today, cases of local transmission are already increasing with still no sight of vaccine to help the situation. The situation can worsen once our country’s borders are fully opened for tourism.

It’s time for the provincial board to pass an ordinance creating health protocol marshals in all towns and cities to protect the provincial government’s gains in the last six-month campaign.

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On a PERSONAL note:

  1. There is a helpful guy at the Dagupan PNP station ready to help one get his/her police clearance quickly. Salamat!

  2. Who’s manning the highways to enforce DILG Sec. Año’s order to ban and regulate their use by tricycles and motorcycles? The good secretary ought to know that he’s being ignored in Pangasinan. Curiously, the DILG directors are not even lifting a finger to have their boss’ order followed to the letter.

  3. Barangay tanods should not be allowed to man checkpoints like they do at the Dagupan-Calasiao border checkpoint along Barangay Caranglaan. Parang naging istambayan ang checkpoint. Ugh.

  4. Barangay Pantal in Dagupan refused to issue me a barangay clearance simply because I no longer vote in Dagupan, never mind that my Sunday Punch office is located in the barangay. Since when did DILG rule that only voters are entitled to an administrative clearance? It’s the constitutional right of a resident or owner of establishment to be issued a barangay clearance unless he/she has a pending record that should deprive him/her of this right. Attention, mga kapitan!

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