I write this as “Ulysses” had just swept across Central Luzon, Bicol, and Metro Manila leaving a swathe of devastation from the heavy winds and rains it brought. Angat, Caliraya, and La Mesa dams have already reached their full capacity and Marikina River had overflown above “Ondoy” level. My friend Virgie Pasalo thinks the typhoon should have been re-named Hercules as Ulysses, one of the powerful gods, was wounded at the thigh and could not have galloped at full lightning speed.
This happened just as Typhoon “Rolly” had made its exit in Bicol. “Ulysses” thus hit residents before they could recover.
Meteorologists attribute the large volume of overflow that caused water to rise to the ceiling in a large area of Marikina, to several typhoons preceding Ulysses that had saturated the soil. Forced evacuations through rescue boats are going on at this time. Power was off in several parts of Metro Manila and other regions hit by the storm. We never realized how dependent we are on Internet and the Wi-Fi as we experienced intermittent brownouts.
Only 11 years ago, the country was hit by two big storms – Ondoy and a political storm that placed the country 4th and 5th in the Global Index of Impunity until this year when it went down to 7th place after Angel Ampatuan Jr. and his accomplices were meted sentences. The Ampatuan massacre where 58 people, including 32 journalists, were killed, was the “single most bloody strike against journalists in the world.” It demonstrated impunity at its height.
Again, just a few days ago. Radio commentator Virgilio Maganes, 62, was killed by two motorcycle-riding men as he was about to enter his family’s compound in Barangay San Blas, Villasis, Pangasinan. Four years ago, Maganes survived an ambush while on the way to work. He is the 18th casualty since President Duterte assumed office. According to the National Union of Journalists, (NUJP), he survived the first time by “playing dead” after being hit. A note left at scene during the first attempt on his life said: “I am a drug pusher. Don’t be like me.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists has designated November 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.” We remember this day of ignominy on November 23, the date of the Maguindanao massacre.
Impunity manifests itself in the arrogance of power. Such as what many Americans and the rest of the world had seen in the behavior of outgoing US President Donald Trump who, to this date, had refused to concede despite President Biden’s wide margin in both popular votes (over 5 million at this time of writing) and of course, the determining electoral votes (279 over Trump’s 213).
In Hong Kong, Beijing disqualified what it describes as “unpatriotic” opposition lawmakers prompting all their “pro-democracy” counterparts to resign.
Although not an act of impunity, the recent shooting of Judge Ma. Theresa Abadilla, 44, should be seen as needing serious action, as she is the 8th judge and the 51st member of the legal profession to be gunned down over the past four years of the Duterte administration. This should prompt us to examine our safety measures and protocols.
Judge Abadilla, of the Manila Regional Trial Court, Branch 45, was shot by her Clerk of Court, lawyer Amador Rebato who was reportedly seen as “uneasy” and “shuddering” from symptoms of coronavirus when he was called to a meeting with the judge. After the shooting, he committed suicide. My son, Ferdie, and other batchmates at the UP Integrated School where the judge was a classmate who were shocked over the news said they also thought that the clerk had mental issues.
The late judge who worked at the Supreme Court as clerk of court before becoming a judge, was the daughter of former Col. Rolando Abadilla, former intelligence Officer. Supreme Court Justice Diosdado Peralta mourns the death of an “upright and highly competent magistrate.”
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