We were rudely interrupted from enjoying the Yuletide season when the STAR announced on the front page the following rather disturbing piece of news last Sunday, December 28, 2008.
“Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman Sr. and his son Nasser Jr., a mayor of Masiu town in Lanao del Sur, were tagged as part of a group who allegedly beat up a 56-year-old businessman and his 14-year-old son at the Valley Golf and Country Club in Antipolo City last Friday,” the STAR news report penned by Rainier Allan Ronda opened.
“Delfin de la Paz said that more than his physical injuries, he was concerned about the psychological trauma to his son Bino Lorenzo, a first-year high school student at the Ateneo de Manila, who recently participated in a junior golf tournament in Thailand as part of the Philippine team, which placed second,” Ronda’s news report added.
Later that Sunday, I read the entry of Bambee de la Paz (one of the daughter’s of Delfin de la Paz, the complainant) in her blog which she titled “The world has gone crazy.” Bambee de la Paz recounted the traumatic experience she and her family had just suffered.
She describes the violent episode: “The mayor of Masiu City, Lanao del Sur (Nasser Pangandaman Jr.) talks with my dad. Things get heated up. Voices were raised. But never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine that someone would pull out a punch.
She continued: “He attacks my father. His flight mates, maybe 2 or 3 of them, rush to his aid and beat up my father. My 56-year-old father. My younger brother and I could not just watch. We rushed to break the fight.”
“My younger brother pleads to the mayor to please stop it. To not hurt my dad. To just stop. His words still ring through my head...“Sorry na po, sorry na po...tama na...tama na po.. (Sorry, please stop it sir, please stop it, please stop it sir).” With his hands in front of his chest in a praying position. PLEADING. The mayor socks him in the face. My brother defended himself. My dad is still on the ground getting clobbered. My brother is the same way. I try to stop the fight, but all I can do is stop one person. There were 4 or 5 of them attacking now,” Bambee de la Paz wrote.
She added: “Someone breaks up the fight. I thought it was all over. The mayor shouts to his caddy: “Hindi nila kami kilala! Sabihin mo nga sa kanila kung sino ako! (They don’t know who we are! Tell them who I am!)” And believe me, I had no idea who this person was. But now I know. He’s the person who, with 4 other men, beat up my 56-year-old father and my 14-year-old brother. He’s the person who sacks a pleading 14-year-old kid in the face.”
Bambee continued: “I lash out, but my dad held me back. I was screaming my lungs out, shouting to this mayor, telling him about what he had done. I said: “Nakakahiya kayo. Singkwenta’y sais anyos ang tatay ko. And kapatid ko kakatorse anyos. Anong ilalaban nila sayo? (Shame on you. My father is already 56 years old. What can he fight you with?)”
The mayor looks at my brother, point to his face, and says, “Tatandaan kita (I will remember you!)!”
This took place in a golf course where a gentleman’s sport is played. My Scottish grandfather, Ian Trotter-Macgregor, the 1919 and 1920 back to back Philippine Open Champion, would have turned in his grave over this incident which he would surely consider a sacrilege committed against the gentleman’s game of golf. He revered golf almost to the level of a religion. My mother used to tell me that our grandfather often said that in golf you play against yourself, your own character and you tracked your own score.
Sec. Pangandaman Sr. claimed in a subsequent phone interview with the STAR, which was published yesterday, that it was Delfin de la Paz who started the fight and that he will file counter charges in court.
Sec. Pangandaman is entitled to his day in court but GMA does not have to wait for a court judgment in order to fire him. Sec. Pangandaman is a cabinet appointee and he serves at GMA’s pleasure. Having just watched the incident and not exercised his official and moral authority are more than enough reasons for the DAR secretary to be fired.
Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) should simply fire Sec. Nasser Pangandaman Sr. for public scandal and loss of confidence. She should also order Local Government Secretary Ronnie Puno to start proceedings to investigate Mayor Nasser Pangandaman Jr. and impose the proper penalty.
In the case of Pangandaman’s son who is an elected public official, Ronnie Puno will have to process his suspension or expulsion depending on what the department probe discovers and in accordance with what the law allows.
GMA cannot just shrug off this incident because this underscores the arrogance and abuse of power and authority under her regime. There has been too much publicity and public attention generated and perceived injustice will add to the many factors already destabilizing her regime.
Filipinos will be asking just what exactly does GMA owe her DAR chief. Is Nasser Pangandaman Sr. an architect of the 2004 election operation in Lanao del Sur?