By Robert B. Roque, Jr.
In the hallowed halls of the Senate, we witnessed last Tuesday the meeting of the ex-policeman and the hapless cyclist he assaulted in Quezon City last August 8. It was a spectacle that should make us question our laws and the integrity of those sworn to uphold them.
If the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) had done its job well, it would not have come to this. Yes, that’s still on you, too, Brig. Gen. Nicolas Torre III.
In the video, we all saw a different side of that furious, armed man, who we now know as ex-cop Wilfredo de Joya Gonzales. He sat there apologetic to the cyclist and to the public. It took him one month after that disgraceful road rage incident to come to his wits.
It might not reek of insincerity as we saw him smile and put his arm around his victim, cyclist Allan Bandiola. Still, many of us could swear he wasn’t any sorry for his violent deed when they met at the police station hours after the incident or even at the end of last week. I think he’s sorrier that his apology at the Senate the other day was far too late.
Let’s not forget the sordid details: Gonzales initially gained P500 from the very cyclist he assaulted, an act that can only be described as daylight robbery. Fate, it seems, has a twisted sense of justice, as he now faces the potential loss of P600,000 in retirement benefits — something the Philippine National Police (PNP) says he did not even deserve in the first place since he was dishonorably discharged from the service.
Sure, he may have mentioned a recent surgical operation that explained how he acted, but that does not justify it. Pulling a gun on someone isn’t a symptom of post-operative stress; it’s a sign of a troubled character. Perhaps, the character of a man who, during his stint as a policeman, earned more criminal charges filed against him than medals of honor.
In a way, Gonzales might have made his way to pay society, however despicable.
Now, senators, congressmen, and various groups are calling for stricter gun ownership regulations, tougher psychiatric assessment processes for police applicants, better mobility rights and protection for road bikers, internal investigation of the PNP’s documentation and approval of retirement benefits, laws that allow the prosecution or road rage suspects without the aggrieved party as the complainant; and setting harsher penalties that include imprisonment on armed aggressors in public.
Suddenly, we’re all concerned about these matters because, in his fit of rage, Gonzales showed us that he did not care about all that. Apologies are good, but true accountability demands more than words — it requires a correction of all these wrongs. Our society deserves nothing less.
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