June 20, 2024

(Editors’ note: The Courier is reprinting the columns of the late Atty. Benedicto T. Carantes as a tribute to one of its long-time columnists. This piece was published on March 11, 2012)

A sure sign that summer is here is the sudden shift from the cold Baguio weather to, well, not exactly hot, but warmer days, even if it still gets nippy right after sundown, and just before the sun peaks out of hiding in the mornings.
While it is not yet scorching in the lowlands, you need to bring a face towel to wipe the sweat off your face when walking the streets, and not inside an air-conditioned mall or theater.

Dismayed as Baguio residents are that their beloved city may no longer be the Summer Capital of the Philippines, considering that tourists no longer arrive in droves during the Holy Week and all summer long, the fact remains that each and every Filipino needs to come up to Baguio at least once in his lifetime to complete his existence. There is something missing in one’s life if he or she has never been to Baguio.
That is what makes Baguio unique. It is a linkage to the rest of the country that no other town or city has, and what better time to be here than in summer.

I had no idea that there are so many Baguio folks born in March, and they are all one in saying that Pisceans are neither unforgiving nor vengeful.
Anyway, it was what Dra. Sherry Ong claimed when she celebrated her birthday last Sunday, treating friends and colleagues to a sumptuous dinner at the family-owned Golden Pine Hotel and Restaurant. I can only reply that maybe they were born in some other dimension without knowing it. This is what makes Pisceans apart from others – their difference and indifference. One thing I have learned about Pisceans is to never cross them.

In the Philippines, vengeance should alter our normal lives when the need arises. Those criminals who murdered a UP Los Baños student should be lined up against the wall and shot, no questions asked. You know what emboldens them when they ply their nefarious trade? Right, the absence of the electric chair. I daresay that we should restore the death penalty, and those convicted should be quickly executed – no reprieves, no extensions.
And what is it about adult Filipinos that turn them into ogres when overcome by anger, beating up helpless kids, instead of turning them over to the authorities? “Ikulong at bugbugin din ‘yang driver at konduktor,” seen on TV holding lead pipes, while molesting their victims.
Democracy does not work in third world countries like the Philippines.

Look at some of the most peaceful cities in the country. These are cities where the authorities speak the language of the criminals. San Fernando City in La Union is almost crimeless, so too Davao in the south. Once upon a time Baguio was nearly crime-free, when Bobby Ortega was chief of police. And there was hardly a drug menace when Lim Seng (remember him?) was executed by firing squad in the early days of Martial Law.

How do rogue soldiers or policemen become law enforcers when they exhibit signs of being trigger-happy, are arrogant, and prone to violence? Believe me I see it all the time – the brusque manner, the foul language, etc. While riding a taxi the other day, the driver tried to maneuver his vehicle up General Luna Road, when a visibly irked traffic policeman on duty rudely banged the hood of the taxi, cursed loudly, and even raised his fist as if to strike the driver.
Okay, maybe he was tired and hungry, but a public display of vile temper sends the wrong message to a watchful citizenry.

No, no, it is not an isolated incident, it is a common occurrence. Of course, I am not saying that it is the general rule, but I honestly feel there are more rotten eggs than good ones in law enforcement agencies. Oh, if it is any consolation, jail guards are at least polite, as compared to the cops walking the police beat.
When no less than an NBI head is sacked because of alleged extortion and kidnapping, what goes through the mind of the average citizen?
And for that matter, what is it about fame that makes showbiz people assholes? Power? Be careful how you handle it.
Have a great summer!