Justice must be tempered with compassion

05:05 AM December 22, 2017

I refer to “Unwarranted punishment for hungry clerk” by Nelly Escandor (Letters, 12/15/17) concerning the unfortunate plight of Paul Matthew Tanglao, the hungry clerk who stole a can of corned beef from the supermarket where he was working at.

Like Escandor, I understand the employer’s position in meting out punishment because it was indeed a violation of trust and might set a precedent for other employees.


Indeed, the punishment was a bit too harsh but as Escandor pointed out, if management does not give sufficient training to their employees, it also must take responsibility.

As Tanglao stated: “I felt like I’ve been shamed and embarrassed before the world. I’m not saying what I did was right. I know it’s wrong. All I’m saying is I was just really hungry [that day] and I didn’t have money…” (“I was really hungry, says clerk arrested for stealing can of corned beef,”


Inquirer.net, 12/18/17).

I am not condoning neither am I subscribing to what he did but it is my contention that justice must be tempered by mercy and compassion.

The action taken by the management in suing and filing criminal charges against this hapless individual is not only harsh but undeniably inhumane, brutal and a vulgar display of power and the height of unreasonable vindictiveness.

To the management, can they really state categorically that they are completely blameless in this whole incident? Is the act of their poor employee not a reflection of their whole system?

I overwhelmingly concur with the position of the policeman who noted that the money spent on photocopying the documents for the case was more expensive than the price of the can of corned beef—P31.50.

Is this the kind of “justice” that the management wants?



assistant professor,

University of Makati

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