“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”
–Hunter S. Thompson
By Alex P. Vidal
NEWARK, New Jersey –– After witnessing the cold-blooded murder of a plainclothes cop from Arevalo district during the 1990 Dinagyang Festival final night in Iloilo City in the Philippines, I became convinced that there should be a gun ban when the Ilonggos celebrate the feast of Señor Santo Niño every year.
The cop (I can remember him only as “Ben”) was gunned down while answering the call of nature on the rear tire of an owner type jeep where I was sitting and parked on corner Valeria and Ledesma Streets in the City Proper, a stone throw away from our News Express editorial office.
“Ben” died on the spot from multiple gunshot wounds fired by an unknown assailant at past seven o’clock in the evening.
I was holding my friend Emmanuel “Boyet” Carillo’s state-of-the-art camera (which was burned in a fire that gutted their house in Kalibo, Aklan weeks later), thus I was able to take some photos as “Ben” sprawled on the pavement bathing in his own blood.
The case has remained unsolved.
We also support the move of the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) and the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) to prohibit glass bottles and cans during the revelries.
Glass bottles and beer or soft drink cans can become deadly if used by drunken revelers as weapons.
Senior Inspector Shella Mae Sangrines, ICPO spokesperson, said in a recent press conference they did not want revelers to carry illegal weapons, drugs and other harmful contraband, thus they would inspect all backpacks.
The police may also check belt bags aside from backpacks.
Drug dealers and gang members carrying deadly weapons and illegal substances will eschew backpacks now that the police have announced what type of bag to be strictly perused during the festivities.
Some thugs who use backpacks are not really members of drug syndicates, terror groups and street-level fraternities engaged in riot.
Some of them are small time robbers or pickpockets.
One afternoon during the 1998 Dinagyang Festival, I “saved” a 17-year-old out-of-school teenager from being lynched by an angry mob near the Ledesma Street gate of Mary Mart Mall in Iloilo City.
“Randy” was being punched and kicked by male and female attackers while tightly embracing his backpack.
I intervened and was able to stop the carnage. When I checked the victim’s backpack, it contained several Nokia and Philips analog cellular phones.
He was a “snatcher” cornered by some of his victims.
I negotiated with the maulers and helped them recover their cellular phones right away. I escorted the “snatcher” away from harm after he promised to go straight.
Since I was into sports, I encouraged him to train as amateur boxer in the YMCA gym. After a series of bouts in our weekly boxing tournament at the Iloilo City Freedom Grandstand, I introduced him to the late then City Administrator Angelo “Bebot” Geremias and brought him to Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu thereafter where he won a bronze medal in the inter-city youth slugfest.
Drunkenness should also be regulated if not avoided during the Dinagyang revelry.
In the 1994 Dinagyang, the grandson of a prominent Filipino-Chinese tycoon hogged headlines when he was “drugged and molested” by two gay hairdressers who befriended him at the Freedom Grandstand, the main judging area for ati dance competitions.
“Anthony”, who once worked with former Sen. Joselito “Lito” Lapid as stuntman in an action film shot in Cebu, alleged that he passed out and wasn’t able to go home after a drinking session with the two hairdressers while waiting for announcement of winners Sunday evening.
He woke up the following morning in the sidewalk of J.M. Basa Street without a shirt. His other personal belongings went missing. He confessed to police he suffered a “swollen penis” and was treated in the hospital.
When one of the hairdressers was stabbed dead by an unknown suspect in Brgy. Tanza-Baybay in the City Proper weeks later, “Anthony” disappeared in Iloilo City.
“Anthony’s” cousin, “Jaguar”, who owns a resort in Boracay in Caticlan, Aklan, got mad when police coaxed him to cooperate and pinpoint his cousin’s whereabouts.
I accompanied the cop who went to the cousin’s office, a lending firm, in downtown, City Proper. The cop managed to enter and talk to “Jaguar” briefly before being rebuked.
I was left outside “Jaguar’s” office after being denied entry by “Jaguar’s” secretary.
“Anthony” hasn’t been seen again.