By Robert B. Roque, Jr.
So many memes have flooded social media, all aimed at berating Mr. Wilfredo de Joya Gonzales — the man they say cut the path of a cyclist along a bicycle lane in Quezon City, struck the poor cyclist on the head, and appeared to have threatened the lanky fellow’s life by cocking his pistol with a “game face.”
Back in my days in the newsroom, our venerable boss often reminded us “not to kick a man when he’s down.” Consequently, our newspaper adhered to a strict code: report the truth, avoid undue sensationalism, and refrain from fanning the flames of negativity.
As for Mr. Gonzales, the viral video that captured his rather extraordinary moment might paint him as an individual of exceptional violence and irrationality. However, one cannot help but wonder if there is more to his story. Let’s not forget that he once proudly served in the Philippine National Police (PNP), an organization tasked with upholding the law. It’s possible, some may say, that he merely committed an honest mistake —like permitting himself to be caught on camera.
Gonzales boasts a rather impressive portfolio of legal matters, most concluding with dismissals. Perhaps he possesses an uncanny ability to persuade, or some might say, intimidate individuals into settlements, much like the encounter with the cyclist.
Having spent decades as a police officer, he is undoubtedly well-versed in gun-handling. Yet, one has to ponder: even if the cyclist displayed rudeness, does it warrant the drawing of a firearm against an unarmed individual? One could argue that such an extreme reaction might be justified if the cyclist had wielded a knife or some other deadly weapon. However, in this case, that wasn’t the scenario.
Nonetheless, let’s extend a modicum of understanding towards Brig. Gen. Nicolas Torre III. His willingness to tender his resignation as the QCPD director, driven by perceived partiality towards Mr. Gonzales, suggests he might have perceived the aggressor as a misunderstood, law-abiding citizen. For him and his precinct, it may have seemed reasonable for both parties to negotiate a mere P500 penalty as a resolution.
Yet, it’s hard to deny that Mr. Gonzales could have swiftly resolved the situation had he taken the initiative to offer a public apology to the cyclist, acknowledging the unjustifiably menacing display of his firearm. It would have gone a long way in the court of public opinion.
Furthermore, we must not forget that social media was still grappling with the aftermath of recent police misconduct cases, including the controversial shootings of teenagers in Navotas and Rizal. Mr. Gonzales’s actions added another layer to the ongoing conversation in this charged atmosphere.
Is Mr. Gonzales, in fact, an upright citizen? I can’t be sure if this premise is backed by the many times he’s been proven innocent of a crime in court. Yes, he has a string of cases filed against him that the honorable courts had dismissed, like two cases of violation of PD 1866 (Illegal Possession of Firearms), a grave threat charge in 2000, a grave coercion charge in 2003, and an obstruction of justice case in 2004.
On top of that, Mr. Gonzales was exonerated in two frustrated homicide cases between 1992 and 1999 and two robbery cases between 1993 and 2009! How, then, can we fault Brig. Gen. Torre if he and his merry men in the QCPD thought very highly of Mr. Gonzales? The courts apparently love the guy! For Pete’s sake, an office in the highest court of the land even hired him!
Well, Atty. Raymond Fortun has taken three cops who many of us think handed the cyclist the short end of the stick! I’m not one to pass judgment on Mr. Gonzales. But if this leads to another filing of a case against him, we’ll see just how lucky he really is with our legal system.
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