Monday, December 29, 2008


Golf is supposed to be a high class game where a lot of important business deals - both government and private - are rumored to have been made. It is usually played by the rich and powerful - businessmen, politicians, government officials, top paying professionals, you name it. Even presidents find time to sneak out of their hectic and demanding schedules to play the game, such as GMA and George W. Bush no less.

But the game that is supposed to be the domain of the well-to-do, highly educated, and respected members of society has just added to its lush and well manicured fairway a new type of golfer. Nope, it is not Manny Pacquiao who, although he has earned the right to join this elite sport with his fame and money, still knows where his powerful jabs and hooks belong. A gang of club swinging brawlers.

The mayor of Maisu, Lanao Del Sur and namesake of government peace negotiating panel member, Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and his bodyguard reportedly assaulted, mauled, and beat businessman Delfin Dela Paz and his son for violating golf etiquette last Friday at the Valley Golf and Country Club in Antipolo City.

The elder Dela Paz and his 14-year old son have clearly been at the receiving end of severe mauling and beating. Interestingly, the Pangandamans are claiming that it was the Dela Pazes who initially attacked Pangandaman Jr. with an umbrella. Somehow this is hard to believe. First, unlike the Dela Pazes who immediately lodged a complaint with the police, this claim was not earlier made by the Pangandamans when they had the opportunity to do so, suggesting an afterthought. Second, a golf club could have probably done the job if indeed the elder Dela Paz attacked first. Third, the injuries sustained by the Dela Pazes and the footmarks on the elder Dela Paz's clothing suggest they were the victims rather than the assailants. If indeed the mayor was first attacked and he responded only in self-defense, the injuries sustained by the Dela Pazes were too severe. For the Dela Pazes to receive such severe injuries would mean that the mayor was severely attacked by the Dela Pazes. As it appears, however, there is no indication that Pangandaman Jr. received such severe attack.

If Mayor Pangandaman and his bodyguards were indeed the guilty parties, the implications will be serious. A mayor is the chief law enforcer of his town. He is responsible for the town's peace and order and has power to direct the police to enforce the law and arrest violators. As the town's chief executive, the mayor is entrusted with very important and serious responsibilities. Whether Mayor Pangandaman Jr. inflicted the injuries on the Dela Pazes or his bodyguards will not detract from the fact that Pangandaman Jr. failed gravely in his conduct as mayor. If he directly participated in the mauling, there is no question that he betrayed the serious responsibilities of his post. If it were only his bodyguards who did it, that will not still exonerate him because it will only show how inept he is in controlling his people and if he claims to control them, which should be the case, it will only show that he directed them to do their deplorable acts.

Also, the fact that the incident happened way beyond the borders of Masiu does not mean Pangandaman Jr. is no longer mayor or that he should no longer act conformably to his office. As mayor, he carries that title and the demands of his office wherever he goes. He is required to act responsibly and respectfully not only to his constituents, but to anyone with whom he deals with, fellow golfers included no matter how they had misbehaved. If it is true that the Dela Pazes violated golf etiquette, needless to say it is also not golf etiquette to beat and maul them. As a man entrusted with great responsibilites as mayor of his hometown, Pangandaman Jr. should have dealt with them in a civilized and amicable way. If the mayor cannot act accordingly then he does not deserve his post, and the demands of delicadeza require that he resign, plain and simple. As John F. Kennedy once said, to those to whom much has been given, much is expected.

The moment Pangandaman Jr. delivered the first blow or his bodyguards to the Dela Paz father and son - if that were the case, and there is strong indication that it was - he had lost the moral and political right to remain in office. How could a brawler mayor or a coddler of goons and thugs be expected to enforce law and order in his hometown?

Going now to the elder Pangandaman, there is prima facie indication that he was present during the mauling, although he denies it. The Dela Pazes' narration of the incident appears sincere and truthful, nothing shows that they had the motive to lie and exaggerate, and the country club report apparently shows his presence.

Secretary Pangandaman should come clean and stop denying his presence during the beating if that were the case. As the investigation will soon unfold, more witnesses will surface and give detailed account of the incident. This is not something that happened in a secluded place where only those involved were present. Unless witnesses are cowed into silence there will be others who must have seen what happened and who were present.

If the investigation ultimately reveals that the peace negotiator was present and did nothing to stop the brutal attacks - there were two instances of it, it was reported - Secretary Pangandaman's credibility as a cabinet secretary, let alone as peace negotiator, will be shredded into tatters. He will likewise lose the moral and political right to remain in office.

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