The message still for many is that one must not “run afoul of the law” meaning, do not criticize much less oppose government authorities, from the policeman on the beat to the untouchables in and around Malacañang. In this country, crime does pay especially if you have the power and the means to crush your opponents including paying off the police, the military and corrupt fiscals and judges to do your bidding.
BY CAROL PAGADUAN-ARAULLO
Streetwise / Business World
Posted by Bulatlat
In this country, the name Failon has instantly become associated with police brutality and abuse of authority. The untimely death of Trinidad Etong, the wife of popular radio and television news anchor Ted Failon, likely by her own hand, has resulted in a series of tragic events for her family. What would otherwise be a personal cross to bear for Mr. Failon and his children has become a highly publicized spectacle of the police venting their ire and their incompetence on the hapless members of Mr. Failon’s household, including his wife’s siblings, who just happened to be there.
This is not just a case of police overzealousness, nor of police brutality. All the elements that should have stayed the hand of the police were present. At the outset the case was an apparent suicide attempt; the commission of a felony was not self-evident although it could not be ruled out. Mr. Failon is a high- profile media personality, a former Congressman, a man of some means and with connections in high places, as high up as Vice President Noli de Castro, who rushed to Mr. Failon’s side after the incident.
Prudence and judiciousness were clearly the way to go for any responsible police investigator but the police authorities did the exact opposite.
Very early on the investigators drew the conclusion that they were dealing with a parricide case; i.e. Mr. Failon had attempted to kill his wife. Even while Ms. Etong was fighting for her life in the hospital, the police were engaged, not in investigating the circumstances of the shooting, but in building up a case against her husband.
They were quick to speculate that the wife had been shot in Mr. Failon’s car and then transferred to the bathroom. This despite the testimony of all the household help, Ms. Etong’s sister and Mr. Failon that they found her in the bathroom bathed in a pool of her
own blood, with a gun at her side, and that she was subsequently rushed by Mr. Failon to the hospital in his car.
The police initially stated that there was no evidence of the spent bullet ricocheting in the bathroom (they later found it); that the husband had scratches on his back indicating that the “victim” had fought off her “assailant” (there were none); and that there were solid indications of an attempted cover-up by cleaning the scene of the crime, both the bloodied bathroom and the vehicle.
The “law enforcers” were uncharacteristically swift in hauling off Mr. Failon for questioning; they took forever to process his sworn statement; and it was only through the intervention of the Chief of the Public Attorney’s Office that he was temporarily released. Whereupon police officials peremptorily declared that he was the object of a manhunt for illegally removing himself from their custody.