‘Smell of fear’ in Makati
The Junjun Binay vs Dasmariñas Village security guards “standoff” won’t be over until some questions that are begging to be asked are finally asked and answered. Let’s take them one by one.
The first is obvious: Why did an “incident” which involved a mayor and a senator—and arguably smacks of possible abuse of authority—go so long unreported in the media? When this newspaper broke the story, it was rewarded with being called “malicious” and with “glaring biases and bends” by Sen. Nancy Binay. Don’t ask me what a “bend” is.
Let me take a stab at the answer, and the reader is free to add or subtract. Obviously the Binays wanted to keep it quiet because the incident showed them in the worst possible light. The comments, thousands of them, that appeared after the story came out, were running about +99 percent against them.
The Right Eight Security Agency, which has the contract for providing the security guards to Dasmariñas Village also wanted to keep it quiet. They have a lot of business operations in Makati City and, according to Ram Antonio, all over the Philippines. That is why they made their security guards apologize, and they themselves were pathetically groveling to Binay for mercy. Most Makati businessmen do the same thing.
The third party here, the Dasmariñas Village Association (DVA), apparently was busy, trying to distance themselves, content to let Right Eight handle the situation. When the s–t hit the fan (the Inquirer story came out), Jay Pantangco, the president of the DVA, reportedly refused to comment. A purported statement from him came out indirectly: Joey Salgado, Binay’s spokesman, said that Pantangco admitted that there were “lapses in the procedures.” Pantangco did not comment on Salgado’s assertion.
It was only on Dec. 23, four days after the story broke, and given the overwhelming public support for the security guards, that DVA sent out a letter to the residents, saying it was standing by the security guards, and thanking the residents for their support. Read that statement carefully though: The commendations and the gifts came from the residents, not from the DVA board. I have tried, as a resident, to get the duty reports of the guards. To no avail. DVA doesn’t want to give out any data.
So what is the overall picture that emerges? Right Eight and the DVA walking on eggshells in their effort not to offend the Binays. The smell of fear is in the air. Fear of retribution for those doing business in Makati.
There is a second question that should be asked: Why have no charges been filed against Mayor Binay for abuse of authority (and the police for obeying an illegal order)? After all, the CCTV tapes show it all: Binay’s bodyguards, who are members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), cocking their guns and rifles at the hapless security guards; and the Makati police, responding to the call of the mayor, using their muscle (literally as well) to lift the barricade and “invite” the guards to their precinct.
The question should be broken into two parts: (1) Was there abuse of authority on the part of the mayor (and the police)? (2) Who can file the charges?
Section 51 (powers of local government officials over PNP officials) of Republic Act No. 6975 (creating the PNP) has this to say: The city and municipal mayors shall exercise operational supervision and control over the PNP in their respective jurisdictions. This shall include the power to employ and deploy units or elements of the PNP. “Employ” refers to utilization of units or elements of the PNP for purposes of protection of lives and properties, enforcement of laws, maintenance of peace and order, prevention of crimes, arrest of criminal offenders and bringing the offenders to justice, and ensuring public safety, particularly in the suppression of disorders, riots, lawless violence, rebellious or seditious conspiracy, insurgency, subversion or other related activities.
Under which of the above does the mayor’s use of the police in the Dasmariñas Village incident fall? Arguably, therefore there is a case for abuse of authority. Who has the power to suspend? The President. But he must consult with the congresswoman concerned, who happens to be a Binay (Abigail).
What about the police involved? RA 6975 allows citizens to make complaints against the police. It also has a People’s Law Enforcement Board (PLEB) that hears the complaints and must pass judgment within 60 days.
So there you have it. There is a case for abuse of authority. Citizens can file the complaint. But which citizen will do it? Obviously not Right Eight. Obviously not the DVA. They are paralyzed with fear.
Which brings us to the security guards: Virgilio Robang (duty officer that night, and the only one named in the news reports), Dionisto Uy, Joel Laureto, Elpidio Panigsing. All in their late 30s or early 40s. If citizens with greater economic and political strength are afraid of the Binays, do you think these four guards will have the courage?
I refer you to the Dec. 23 letter of the DVA to the residents of Dasmariñas Village, which says, “the four guards will continue their duty,” because they did their jobs so well. Well, as of Dec. 28, one guard went on leave. And the other three went on leave starting yesterday. The smell of fear is upon them too. Fear of retribution for those working in Makati.
There is just enough time for one more burning question: How was Senator Binay able to afford a home in Dasmariñas Village (it was part of the report). The answer: the report was wrong. It is the other Binay sister, Abigail, who has a house there. But the same question applies.
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