Jail the Pangandamans!

James Ryan Jonas

You’ve probably heard it by now. Members of a clan of political elites are involved in an alleged mauling incident last week at the Valley Golf and Country Club in Antipolo City.
The suspects: Masiu, Lanao del Sur Mayor Nasser Pangandaman, Jr. and his 5 bodyguards. Father Nasser Sr., Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary, reportedly just watched while the victims, a 56-year-old and a 14-year-old boy, were beaten up.
The daughter and sister of the victims, Bambee de la Paz, blogged about the incident. According to her:
The mayor of Masiu City, Lanao del Sur talks with my dad. Things get heated up. Voices were raised. But never in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine that someone would pull out a punch. Apparently not.
He attacks my father. His flightmates, maybe 2 or 3 of them, rush to his aid and beat up my father. My 56-year-old father. My younger brother and I could not just watch. We rushed to break the fight.
My younger brother pleads to the mayor to please stop it. To not hurt my dad. To just stop. His words still ring through my head… “Sorry na po, sorry na po…tama na…tama na po…” With his hands in front of his chest in a praying position. PLEADING.
The mayor socks him in the face. My brother defended himself. My dad is still on the ground getting clobbered. My brother is the same way. I try to stop the fight, but all I can do is stop one person. There were 4 or 5 of them attacking now.
The Pangandamans’ version, however, was that the De la Pazes started the fight. GMA News reported that according to Nasser Pangandaman Jr., he talked with the elder De la Paz in a nice way but the man hit him instead with an umbrella and hurled invectives and twice challenged him to a fight.
Let’s disregard for the meantime who has the true version of the incident. Let’s set aside the fact that the alleged maulers are powerful politicians. Let’s not dwell more on the 56-year-old who was beaten up.
Let’s talk about the 14-year-old boy who, according to this Philippine Star news article, “aside from the bruises, has been traumatized. He does not want to go to a golf course anymore.”
In such a case, does it really matter who started the fight? What matters more is that a minor — a defenseless, 14-year-old boy — was punched, beaten, bruised, and hurt by men probably two or three times his built and age.
No matter what the reason is, there is no excuse to do that to a minor. Such physical abuse is clearly a violation of our laws, particularly Republic Act (RA) 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Law. Whoever violates that, regardless of power or rank, should be and must be penalized.
So unless the Pangandamans and their cohorts can prove that they were not responsible for what happened to the kid, then there is no reason why they should not go to jail.
Image Source

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.