By January 12, 2021Opinion, Punchline

The tragedy is about us

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


HOW most reacted to the Christine Dacera “rape-slay” case is certainly a case for behavioral science study.

I say this because within minutes of the news in media, netizens (and, yes, the police) branded her death as a sordid case of rape-slay all because of three facts: the victim was an attractive flight attendant; she was with a group of men partying, she was found lifeless with signs of physical struggle.

Yet, not a few women have been reported raped and killed in the past but they never merited such a mob-like reaction as it did in the Dacera case. I am not suggesting that we should not react strongly against rape but the inclination to be judgmental at the first opportunity without the facts is always uncalled for.

Perhaps the platform offered by social media is what prompts most to be read and heard as loud as the blaring media headlines. But why the rush to be read and heard?

Is this about our culture? Or is it simply because a sex crime is always a rich fodder for gossip? Or could this simply be an effect of being quarantined for almost a year?

As the investigation is beginning to unravel more facts, those who were quick to condemn the victim and the suspects with their speculations of brutal rape and murder, are finding themselves red in the face today. The facts are pointing to abuse of one’s health as the cause of death but then again, until the case is filed based on evidence, we must reserve our comments.

If there’s a lesson to be learned, it is to learn to be prudent. Being heard or read first can be one’s serious embarrassing nightmare.

The tragedy does not lie in the case of Darcera but in us who were quick to be judgmental.

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THREATS TO PHYSICAL HEALTH. In our editorial this week, we talked about the impact of the quarantine on our mental health as perhaps the next most challenging health issue in 2021.

But because of space constraints, we could not add another potential serious threat to our physical health – diabetes and hypertension!  

Since we are what we eat, note what and how we consume gratifying food and dessert to satisfy the craving of our lonely palates.  

This is why renowned health experts continue to remind us at this time to have at least two blood tests and two medical check-ups in the next 12 months, as one of our new year resolutions that should not be broken.  

I hope to do mine next week. The worst reminder one can have is to have a heart attack or irreversible damage to our kidney, eyes and feet, and that would have been too late.   

Infection by COVID-19 may be due to contact with others, and that is beyond our control, but to have a check-up, and to watch our diet is within our control.  

If younger folks, younger than 40, think that this is not for them, they should think again.  Not a few young men and women today have already died or suffered seriously because of their “I will live forever” lifestyle.

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LESSONS LEARNED? Hopefully, our mayors have already learned five lessons in governance, particularly in the matter of handling the COVID-19 pandemic, after 290 days of being made to account for their performance.

I refer to how they can keep the contagion in check while keeping the local economy alive.

First lesson: Placing the whole town or city on a lockdown is non-productive.

Second: Encourage business establishments to open but they must be made active participants in the enforcement of the health and distancing protocols. (In Dagupan City, the baratillo is one pressure cooker for COVID-19 contagion with no real attempt on part of vendors to keep their areas safe).

Third: Keep the 10 p.m. curfew but allow for more medical, transport and food services to support frontliners.

Fourth: Barangays must pass an ordinance making failure to wear masks punishable with fines and community service, then deploy strict COVID marshals 24/7 that will enforce strict compliance.

Fifth: Allow places of worship to open because prayers remind parishioners of need to protect themselves and others.

The above lessons, if learned, will help local governments meet new challenges that will be posed by the arrival of vaccines. It will be the time when people will feel confident about the situation and will stop wearing masks. The serious risk lies in the fact that no one can possibly know whether the persons around him have been given the vaccine or not, meaning the risks and threats of contagion will continue!

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PLEA BARGAIN, A DRUG LORD’S LEGAL WEAPON. The case of the Top 4 high value target (HVT) in illegal drug trading who was arrested and invoked plea bargain in 2019, and was again recently busted should be enough reason for PDEA-PNP and our IBP chapter to file a joint petition before the Supreme Court to withdraw its suggested terms for plea bargaining.

The HVT evaded detention in 2019 by invoking the terms of plea bargain introduced by the Supreme Court.  It didn’t take long after his release for him to resume his drug trading in the streets.

What is faulty in the stipulated terms is the unrealistic expected compliance of both the arrested suspect and the barangay officialdom to the conditions. First of all, there is no stopping the drug suspect from moving to another barangay to prevent the monitoring of his movements. Secondly, patronage is commonplace in our barangays… a barangay kapitan can be made to fake compliance for a consideration. 

I’m certain our drug enforcement operatives must be feeling deeply frustrated when they find themselves arresting the same suspect they arrested, who otherwise should have been locked up. 

The participation of IBP in a petition will tell the Supreme Court that the officers of the law in the field are themselves witnesses to the big loophole in the plea bargain process.  

The SC justices should be told that their plea bargain process has become an added legal protection made available to drug syndicates to protect their network in the streets.  

Meanwhile, our RTC judges can still help by demanding accountability from barangay officials to whom the drug suspect was released. Better still, reject plea bargaining by drug suspects who are in the watch list of barangays, regardless of the weight of illegal drugs seized from the suspect. Then let the drug syndicates contest the judgment while the suspect is locked up.  

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