Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Backing Down

In his column yesterday in the Philippine Star, Alex Magno criticizes the blogosphere for jumping all over Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman Sr. and his role in the Valley Golf incident last December 26, where he and his sons got involved in an altercation with fellow golfer Delfin de la Paz and his children Bambee and Bino, in which the de la Pazes were beaten up. The incident first came to light when de la Paz daughter Bambee wrote about it immediately after it happened. The ensuing outpouring of support for the de la Pazes virtually crucified the Pangandamans as the instigators of the fracas.

However, with the recent conclusion of Valley Golf officials, several things were established, primary being the fact that the elder de la Paz provoked the altercation, first by allowing his children to hit balls onto the green while there were people still on it, and then initiating the fight by poking one of the sons, a mayor of a town in Lanao, with an umbrella. Furthermore, several fellow golfers attested to the hotheaded nature of the elder de la Paz, which supports the fact that Mr. de la Paz was certainly capable of starting a fight. In this case, it turned out that he bit off more than he could chew.

If this was the case, how does that explain Bambee’s blog? It’s possible that since Bambee, by her own account, was a bit of a distance away from the fight, she didn’t see that her father poked Pangandaman Jr., and all she saw was that her father and brother were getting beaten up. The heat of the emotion played heavily here, as Bambee was clearly emotional in her account of the incident.

When I first read of the incident, and subsequently wrote about it, my heart went out to the de la Pazes, who came out looking the underdogs against a powerful government official. But I also said that it was their word against the Pangandamans, and, with the Valley Golf investigation report, which resulted in the banning of the de la Pazes and the younger Pangandamans from the course, as well as the suspension of the elder Pangandaman, it turns out that events unfolded differently from Bambee’s account.
Of course, the de la Pazes can claim that the Valley Golf officials were intimidated by the government officials, but the various accounts of columnists and fellow golfers appear to bolster the findings of the report. Still, the matter is filed in court, so it remains to be seen to whose account the judge will give more weight.

One of the main challenges of maintaining a blog is to be relevant, and not simply rant and rave about the world. One must maintain a semblance of objectivity and be ready to give way if one is proven to be wrong. In my case, I concede that I may have jumped the gun on the situation and prematurely judged the de la Pazes to be in the right, when, clearly, it is not the case.

There are two sides to the story though, and columnists like Magno and Ramon Tulfo, who sent in a staff member to do an independent investigation, appear to gloss over the fact that the Pangandamans still used too much force for people claiming self-defense, as well as the fact that Bino de la Paz, being a minor, was subject to child abuse, being beaten up by the Pangandamans.

Both sides have committed grievous errors, which escalated the situation. Now, if both sides can calm down and come to agree upon a settlement, wherein perhaps the elder de la Paz can apologize for having started the fight, and maybe the Pangandamans apologize for beating up the de la Pazes, then maybe matters will be put to rest.

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