Miss­ing the man in di­rect line of fire

The Freeman - - OPINION -

What was com­mon among Audie Mur­phy, Glenn Ford, John Wayne, and Fer­nando Poe Jr.? They were movie stars who of­ten por­trayed the role of fast draws in western or cow­boy films. It was a usual scene their movies that the hero, like FPJ, would face the vil­lain like Max Al­varado, in a gun duel with the re­sult a fore­gone con­clu­sion.

I have re­solved to treat the con­vic­tion of Janet Napoles and the ac­quit­tal of her co-ac­cused, Senator Bong Revilla, by the Sandi­gan­bayan of plun­der in a much lighter way, no of­fense to the graft court. True to the off tan­gent na­ture of this col­umn, I will not opine on the de­ci­sion, I will leave that to the more pro­found opin­ion mak­ers to ex­plain to those who do not have a copy of the court’s rul­ing or those who don’t un­der­stand it. Rather, let me bring you to an OK Cor­ral kind of a sit­u­a­tion in a western with ac­tor Bong Revilla pre­par­ing to draw his gun against a masked op­po­nent. Let us imag­ine that Revilla acts as the vil­lain be­cause he was the ac­cused in the case and the masked man, prob­a­bly the pros­e­cu­tor, as the hero. Be­cause Revilla is the high-pro­file per­son­al­ity, let us place Napoles, the other vil­lain, in a mi­nor role and stand­ing di­rectly be­hind him.

Around the area where our imag­ined gun­fight takes place, there are other high of­fi­cials ob­serv­ing with some of them think­ing about their own du­els some­day. Also present are some learned in­di­vid­u­als, who in their fan­cied ob­jec­tiv­ity, bet on the de­feat of the vil­lain. There are il­lit­er­ates, too, who al­ways cast their lot with the hero. The or­di­nary cit­i­zens watch­ing pre­tend to hold judg­ment. While some of them are look­ing who will be the fast draw, the greater ma­jor­ity hope to know which side is right. The scene is very tense and so quiet that you can hear a prover­bial pin drop. Then, a gun re­port is heard. In the split sec­ond that fol­lows, Napoles, be­hind Revilla, falls, ap­par­ently, life­less. Her fall is our equiv­a­lent of her con­vic­tion.

In our make-be­lieve sit­u­a­tion, every­one is stunned. A few among them are more be­wil­dered though. Killing is, no doubt, grue­some. The sight of blood drip­ping from a body punc­tured by a bul­let is hor­ri­fy­ing. But, what is com­fort­ing is that most of us ex­pect the masked man, the pros­e­cu­tor, to tri­umph. After all, he is the hero. He is sup­posed to draw his gun quicker and kill vil­lains.

This is where many are in a state of dis­be­lief. In real life, Revilla is a high-strung per­son­al­ity com­pared to a non­de­script Napoles. The for­mer is a source of power and can there­fore wield pro­tec­tive in­flu­ence. Where there are ruf­fles in some trans­ac­tions, his call has a calm­ing ef­fect. Nec­es­sar­ily, the lat­ter ex­pects that when the go­ing gets rough, the for­mer can bail her. Fol­low­ing that or­der of im­por­tance, Revilla, stands at the front of Napoles, in the same di­rect line of fire in­di­cated in this make­be­lieve story. That way, if the masked man draws his re­volver and shoots at his ad­ver­sary, he hits him first be­fore Napoles.

Why would the lady vil­lain fall from the gun fired by the hero when the per­son in front of her, in the di­rect line of fire, goes un­scathed? This anal­ogy, how­ever un­ge­o­met­ric, high­lights the dis­be­lief of peo­ple upon learn­ing of the de­ci­sion of the Sandi­gan­bayan. In­deed, while we re­spect the court’s rul­ing, it is dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand that Napoles, who might have been em­bold­ened to do what she did by the sup­posed pro­tec­tion of Revilla is con­victed and yet her per­ceived part­ner in crime is ac­quit­ted.

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