Missing the man in direct line of fire
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.