The Failon Syndrome

They manhandled, summarily arrested and arbitrarily detained Mr. Failon’s house help, driver, and in-laws on the groundless charge of “obstruction of justice” when they had not even established if a crime had been committed.

Their brash and excessive actions indicate confidence that they had the approval, if not the direct orders of “higher ups” in the Philippine National Police (PNP) and perhaps even in the higher reaches of government.

The immediate and unwavering support for the police by the Justice Secretary compared to the slow response to complaints of police abuse by those directly supervising the PNP, strongly suggest that powerful quarters are at work here. They have an axe to grind against Mr. Failon. Perhaps they want to put an end to his hard-hitting commentaries against the Arroyo regime, erring public officials and their criminal cohorts. Could it be that they are out to cut Mr. Failon and other critical media practitioners like him down to size?

So much so that police brutality and highhandedness, extensively covered by the mass media, were allowed to go on unimpeded for several days after the incident. This was only stopped by overwhelming public sympathy for Mr. Failon, his family and household members and almost universal condemnation of the actuations of the police. For if the police could do this to Mr. Failon, how much more ordinary citizens without the means, the connection, and the clout with the media? What about those who have consistently been in their crosshairs like activists, critics of government and others in opposition to it?

The Arroyo government has been forced to suspend six of the police officers involved and to shift the investigation from the police to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), an agency under the control of the notoriously biased Justice Secretary. It is clearly in damage control mode. The incident will be dismissed as an isolated case. A few will be “punished” and thereafter investigation into their culpabilities and liabilities will be conveniently forgotten. Involved higher-ups and the system that breeds these kinds of abuse will be firewalled.

It remains to be seen whether the victims will find the steps taken by government to redress their grievances satisfactory. Otherwise they risk being dismissed as unreasonable, incorrigible critics or even allowing themselves to be used by Mrs. Arroyo’s political enemies what with the upcoming 2010 presidential elections.

Unfortunately, if the underlying reasons for such an incident are not probed and exposed and if the government is allowed once more to sweep this atrocity under the rug, impunity for such crimes, by those in authority, will again reign supreme.

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. (Business World / Posted by (

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  1. Do we really believed that there would be anyone who would be "punish" accordingly? How naive we are if so… All I can see is a clear pattern by this govt in trying to silence people, groups, by means of terrorizing, anyone who are critical to this govt. How long should be endure???

  2. the question is how do we change things when some in the media are also irresponsible? would it be possible for filipinos to unite and strive for a common goal of achieving justice? or do we remain as indifferent and concerned only for our own skin or the ocnsideration of what we can get out of it?

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