A ‘biblical’ tragedy
News reports describe the crime-drama as “biblical.” Perhaps it’s an invocation of the “old as time” tale of sibling rivalry, or jealousy. After all, after the account of creation and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden, the next story we’re told is that of Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and Eve. Angered at how God seemingly favored Abel, his younger brother, when they were both told to sacrifice lambs to God, Cain struck Abel down in anger, killing him.
When the Lord asked Cain what he had done with Abel, Cain replied with that classic line: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
If eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was what made us human and frail, then the killing of one’s sibling is what made us capable of even the most horrible of crimes. We have been atoning ever since.
And so the “biblical” description for the killing of Ramgen Bautista (Revilla). Suspicion has fallen on two of his younger siblings—his brother RJ and sister Ramona—for allegedly hiring assassins who shot and stabbed Ramgen inside their family home, and after standing by, doing nothing, fled the scene and professed innocence. Ramona even tried to pass on a fantastic tale of being kidnapped by Ramgen’s killers who then released her at a nearby mall. A story, by the way, she later recanted, saying that she was so dumbstruck by what she saw that she could not think clearly and could do nothing but try to get as far away from there as possible.
In fact, even as this is being written, Ramona is very far away indeed. She is believed to be in Turkey, where her husband lives, after leaving the country and raising a storm of speculation and blame.
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MANY have raised eyebrows—and angry voices—at how authorities allowed Ramona to leave the country when she was a “person of interest” in a sensational crime.
Authorities—from airport managers to officials of Immigration, Customs, the NBI and the Department of Justice—have reacted to the criticisms by pointing out, first, that Ramona was not under a hold-departure order or on an immigration watch list, and so airport functionaries had no right to detain her or prevent her departure.
And why wasn’t Ramona on any sort of list? Because the Parañaque police had yet to file charges against her, even if in their statements to the media, they have as good as condemned her. But talking about the culpability of a suspect and of having a “strong” case is one thing; quite another is marshalling the evidence and charging the suspects with a crime.
There are also speculations being raised about a supposed “escort” who paved the way for Ramona’s easy departure. Video footage show Ramona making her way alone from the airport fee counter to the immigration area, but commentators say earlier footage shows her being met at the airport lobby by a man in a white barong.
For now, everybody, including the airline Ramona took to fly to Hong Kong, is denying having anything to do with facilitating Ramona’s flight. Caught in the bind is Ramona’s half-brother, Sen. Bong Revilla, who is suspected of using his influence to ease his sister’s escape. Denying he lifted even a finger, he had to declare that “flight is a sign of guilt,” earning the ire of Ramona’s mother in turn.
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INDEED, underscoring the biblical proportions of Ramgen’s killing is the fact that Ramgen and his siblings are what is politely known as the “second family” of former Sen. Ramon Revilla Sr., who is believed to have sired over 40 children in the course of his long and profitable career as an action star, movie producer and legislator.
Much is being made of the monthly financial support, at first said to be around P1 million and later “moderated” to around P300,000, being given by the older Revilla to Genelyn Magsaysay and her nine children. Many seemed scandalized not so much by the fact that he was (or has been) supporting a second family, which after all is his obligation, but that the ailing former legislator was giving them such a huge amount. This is not counting, mind you, the rather lavish residence he had built for his children, and the tuition he was paying to expensive private schools.
By what I can gather from news reports, Ramgen got along fairly well with his older half-siblings. As the oldest of Genelyn’s children, he was entrusted with the monthly stipend and managing its distribution. In fact, according to one witness, it was his hold over the family’s wherewithal that prompted the animosity of his younger siblings.
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BY ALL accounts, the Revilla children have been behaving themselves well. I can’t recall if it was Senator Bong or his wife, Rep. Lani Mercado, who told the media that to them “there is no half-brother or half-sister,” that all the offspring sired by their father are welcomed into the fold and treated as equals and as family.
But certainly there would have been tensions and ill feelings. Only now, in Genelyn’s Facebook posts, are these surfacing. Telling is her resentful post that the senator seemed to be distancing himself from his sister and “interfering” in the investigation of the case.
A family tragedy is sad enough, without bitterness and suspicion rearing their ugly heads besides.
It may be a tale as old as time, but cooler heads and reasonable hearts must prevail. Ramgen deserves justice, as does his girlfriend who sustained two shots to her head during the attack. And the Revilla family deserves peace and respect, as they try to piece together the relations sundered by the death of one of their own.
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