Filipinos may be harshly judging the West-of-the-Pecos brand of “justice” meted out to Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog using Starbucks hipsteratti standards today — because that is the easy and politically-correct thing to think and do. But, see, sometimes a bit of thinking outside of the square is called for, specially in this instance when all the “experts” and latte-sipping “influencers” are, in unison, singing off the same inbred liberal song book.
Recall that the Ampatuans of Maguindanao also led a lavish lifestyle and lived in enormous mansions for many years while keeping the town natives docile on a diet of breadcrumbs thrown over their perimeter walls every now and then. They struck big time in 2009 and left 57 people dead before the state got to them — an atrocity since known as the “Maguindanao Massacre”. Following that tragedy it becomes easy in hindsight to conclude that the Ampatuans should have been given the same lead poisoning treatment Parojinog was feted with and, following that logic, 57 innocent people would still be alive today.
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Hindsight, it seems, makes people think in a manner inconsistent with the hipster outrage fads they launch when said hindsight is not available. Ozamiz is fundamentally no different to Maguindanao — both are municipalities populated by a bunch of docile peasants kept happy and silent blanketed underneath a warlord clan’s “protection” racket. Typical. The status quos in both of these fiefdoms are, suffice to say, fundamentally the same.
Had the Maguindanao Massacre not happened, Maguindanao’s peasants would today be singing praises to their lords on whose largesse they feast on year round. Had the Ampatuan mansions been aerial bombed or the entire clan gunned down in a “police operation gone wrong” in, say, 2008 (thereby preventing a 2009 massacre that would then never happen), the same clique of “activists” would be issuing the same slogans today and lamenting the Ampatuans’ “human rights” violated in that hypothetical incidence of military or police brutality.
Perhaps then, somewhere in a parallel universe that will now never happen, there’d be a “2018 Ozamiz Massacre” in which, say, 100 people were gunned down and buried with a rusty old backhoe. Let’s say 80 of these people were “media practitioners” for extra effect. (Media people are special in the Philippines’ “activist” circles, see.) It would then be easy to imagine the chatterati erupting in a chorus of hipster outrage rhetoric in a Back to the Future scenario in 2018, with many voices tweeting out wishful thinking that 80 “media practitioners” (never mind the 20 ordinary schmoes) would be alive had the Parojinogs of Ozamiz been gotten to by the police first.
Then come back from that future to 2017. The imagined parallel universe of Ampatuans being “victims” of police brutality in 2008 and the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre, as a result of that, never happening is playing out as an incarnation in Ozamiz today. Fact is, who’s to say that the Parojinogs do not have it in them to be as murderous on the same scale as the Ampatuans? All the ingredients are there: a multi-million peso gravy train of money and a clan of crooks willing to do anything to keep it chugging. In short, Ozamiz under the shadow of the Parojinogs was a Massacre Central waiting to happen. It’s just that the state got to the future perps first.
Just as interesting, in fact, is the same ol’ evidence-in-hindsight emerging and getting long overdue profile now — the lavish lifestyle of Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog-Echavez and images of her Hermes handbags now going viral that, according to Bobit S. Avila in a PhilStar report, would “shame former First Lady Imelda Marcos”.
So the same media circus that fed on the LA LA lifestyle of pork barrel fortune heiress Jeane Lim Napoles in 2013 now feasts on the former baroness of Ozamiz in 2017. In this day and age of social media, it then becomes quite easy to pre-empt these template after-the-fact outrage fads. There are, after all, many other scions, spouses, and extended family members of warlords, clan patriarchs, and even high-ranking government executives who routinely exhibit their European vacations and carry-home haul of branded leather products on social media. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Where there’s fancy European vacations and lots of selfies of fashionista millennials spending daddy’s dough, there’s likely to be dirty money.
One wonders why there is even a need to spend a lot on bricks-and-mortar intel to track down “narco-politicians” when armies of amateur investigators armed with Facebook and Twitter accounts trawling the Net for incriminating selfies would suffice. But when it comes to acting on that intel, there is still a need for good old-fashioned arrest warrants, some hefty firepower slung on the shoulders of uniformed men, and a bit of law-and-order West of the Pecos to boot.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.