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FIRING LINE: Philly cops better get Laylo’s killer

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

A possible case of mistaken identity. Painfully, that is all US detectives could share with Philippine Consul General Elmer Cato a few days into their investigation of the fatal shooting of 36-year-old Filipino lawyer John Albert Laylo in Philadelphia last weekend.

There have been no suspects named, no arrests made, no witnesses to ID a gunman, and no conclusive CCTV footage brought to the fore. Yet the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) has already made out this senseless killing as possibly just “a case of mistaken identity.”

I guess that confirms we have no monopoly of the “pulis patolas” in the world. I had expected more from the PPD, being the fourth largest police force in the US. And frankly, as a Filipino with family in the US, I’d like to be comforted by believing in the first-world supremacy of their criminal justice system.

It sounds to me, though, like Philly homicide investigators are arbitrarily discounting the attack on Laylo as a circumstance-aggravating hate crime against Asians – something worth exploring since it is no secret that racist-driven crimes have been increasing in the States. Sweeping the “possibility” of that angle under the rug does not help the national campaign against it.

Amid the surge in gun violence across America – 246 this year as of June 5, according to the non-profit group Gun Violence Archive – Laylo’s killing in the University City area of Philadelphia was one of three separate gun attacks in the city that weekend, including one that left a teenager dead.

 Exactly two weeks before, a mass shooting resulted in three dead and several wounded, just five kilometers from the spot where the Uber vehicle was taking Laylo and his mom to the airport was repeatedly shot at. How many more of these cases do they need to become expert sleuths at solving these gun attacks? With a strong wake-up call from our Philippine mission over there – hopefully, no more.

*         *         *

No one can deny a lukewarm acceptance of another Marcos occupying the seat of power. At the very least, that bodes true for among us in the one-third of this nation who did not vote for him.

But Bongbong Marcos did well this week to impress ahead of his June 30 inaugural as the republic’s 17th president. He announced, amid biding his time for perfect fits to key Cabinet posts, that he would be heading the Department of Agriculture.

I’m far from a historian, but if my memory serves me right, this is the only time a Philippine president takes on the agriculture chief job. And it may be the absolute best time for that to happen because he is personifying the government’s priority for agriculture.

Amid the economic crunch, inflation, food security dependent on imports, corruption, a mismanaged tariffs system, and other monumental lapses in the DA, Bongbong Marcos is, in effect, saying, “I am taking the bull by the horns. The buck stops with me.”

Even if I never rooted for him in the polls, this is one job I hope he succeeds in for all our sakes.

*         *         *SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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