FIRING LINE: Sudario and Djokovic

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Recently, netizens made viral a video of a cop who put up a non-violent response to a distraught lady who slapped, kicked, and berated him at the entrance of a mall in Santiago City, Isabela. Pleasantly, the cop – Patrolman John Paul Gomez Sudario of the city’s Traffic Enforcement Unit – was cool as ice.

 For those who missed the back story, the lady who attacked Pat. Sudario had been escorted out of the mall by security personnel for unruly behavior. She vented out her rage on the uniformed policeman, causing a scene that was hard to watch.

Yet, the policeman peacefully stood his ground – applying what he’d learned as a professional law enforcer; and with a kindness of heart – the type true servants of the people are made of. Later, it turned out that the fierce lady had a mental disorder.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) was impressed and commended the patrolman for exemplifying “maximum tolerance.” Firing Line shares the hope of CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia to see similar acts that respect human rights and dignity in all aspects of law enforcement.

Reading off the comments, I also share the sentiment of many netizens who understand that the great majority of our cops are do-gooders in the community. But this is not to say that police officers who abuse their authority over innocent civilians deserve lenience or should be hidden in the shadows of those who do good.

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Since the vaccination against COVID-19 rolled out around the globe, no singular figure seemed to embody vaccine hesitancy and the consequence it entails until world-ranked No. 1 tennis star, Novak (No-Vaxx, to some) Djokovic, was arrested in Australia, taken to court, disqualified from competing in the first grand-slam event of the year, and deported.

And just like that, Djokovic went from being the most popular athlete from Serbia to the world’s most infamous anti-vaxxer. After disgracefully falling out from the Australian Open, Djokovic wakes up the following day to find France coming out with a ban on unvaccinated participants in the next big tennis tourney, the French Open.

I’ve made my stand clear many times in this corner: respect every person’s freedom of choice. I am fully vaccinated. Still, when it comes to your life, I support your right to decide what goes through a needle into your body.

As we live with a pandemic that affects humanity, perhaps, Djokovic’s high-profile case opens many more eyes to the reality of how governments of the world are deciding between protecting individual rights as against the common good. Last Monday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared during the Davos Forum that the world must vaccinate everybody against COVID-19 to ensure a way out of the pandemic. “If we leave anyone behind, we leave everyone behind,” he said.

For now, I can’t say if Djokovic or I would be swayed.

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