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FIRING LINE: ‘Irreplaceable’ Toots Ople

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

This may be the first and only time I agree with President Marcos. Still, he said it best during the state tribute to Migrant Workers Secretary Maria Susana “Toots” V. Ople last Monday at Malacanang that she was his “irreplaceable champion” of the cause of millions of overseas Filipino workers and their families.

Marcos said losing her creates an unfillable void, adding that while skill can be found elsewhere, Ople’s unique dedication cannot be replicated. The President’s emotional speech conveyed the enormity of this departure and the nation’s regret for our collective loss.

Leaning Torre of QC

Brigadier General Nicolas Torre III’s vehement denial of attempts to block the harassed and abused cyclist’s case against a road-raging retired policeman is a theatrical performance unworthy of his position. The viral video evidence speaks louder than his weak protestations. Perhaps the general believes that we should accept his words over concrete proof.

Torre’s self-righteous proclamation that a police officer of his stature wouldn’t engage in such behavior conveniently ignores the plethora of instances where power has been wielded unjustly. Oh, but of course, he would never let the truth tarnish his impeccable record.

Everyone who watched the hastily called press conference where the car owner and his gun were presented was not only sizing up this former cop-turned-angry man in the video, Mr. Wilfredo Gonzales.

Many of us were also closely observing what the top general of the Quezon City Police District had to say about this incident, waiting for him to be appalled and driven by his one-star duty to defend the lowly citizen against an armed lawbreaker. What exactly did we see — a detached, passive cop under the bridge? Where’s your grit, general?

Now, it’s fascinating to watch his determination to distance himself from the retired cop who “has nothing to offer” for him to stick his neck out, so says this leaning Torre of QC. How noble of him to claim immunity from such trivial matters. And his impending outreach to Atty. Raymund Fortun, how noble indeed — is it a courtesy call or a genuine commitment to justice? Or maybe the QCPD director only realized his mistake when the poor cyclist found a legal behemoth for a counsel?

Meanwhile, Atty. Fortun’s sharp revelations cut through the haze of Torre’s words: his client coerced into signing an agreement, forced to admit fault, and extorted for a mere P500 is a damning portrait of the police’s conduct. Then, there are the reported threats against the video uploader. It’s a shoddy attempt at intimidation, but truth trumps bullying. Isn’t that right, Senor Gonzales and Kapitan Heneral Torre?

Fortun’s list of impending complaints serves as a beacon of hope in this mess. It’s reassuring to know that, despite Torre’s bluster, there are those willing to push their civic duty to hold public officials accountable like this, Mr. Gonzales. Torre boasts he wouldn’t be general if he did not commit to his sworn duty. Well, mistakes happen.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View via X app (formerly Twitter). Read current and past issues of this column at

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