Judge N.Pattugalan, 60, shot dead in Metro Manila. Why? Read On.
January 5, 2008
(Based on a front page story in the PHIL. STAR JAN.5, 2008)
The judge was a good man. Know of any other judge who bothers to take a jeepney to Camp Crame to follow up on his gun permit? How fast a gunslinger could he be at 60, you ask. A bit too old to be a gunslinger, you think? Well, read on. Still, as fast as his fragile body could pull out his weapon and shoot back at assailants. Real ones. After all, in Cagayan, he had been ambushed and hospitalized. The honest judge was on a tricycle and injured, while the driver was shot dead. Assailants got away, free and clear. Interesting that the good judge, paralyzed by the gun wounds, still came back to work after a year. He asked, begged for security. With ample reason. They assigned him one policeman for one week. When he asked why just a week, he was told that he would have to shoulder the policeman bodyguards daily living expenses. A man who has to take a tricycle to get around can hardly pay for another persons daily expenses. Then he was told by the Department of Justice that they could not pay for security for judges, except for security for the Chief Justice. And so it was that a good man was killed on January after being ambushed as he got off a jeepney. What has this country come to when those who dispense justice are made target practice by disappearing hitmen, and politicians and some rich businessmen get to have their own security personnel, some of whom have six each, not to include the family, who alas, are entitled to only four fully armed bodyguards each? Do business decisions now carry more weight than the power of life and death, a decision that is laid upon a judge’s shoulders? Who now is more important? Those who dispense justice without weapons but from facts and witnesses or those who dispense their type of justice as they see fit, and are protected by the money of their sometimes shady millionaire bosses? This piece is not written so that people like GMA can read it. She has too long ago proven that her concern for the honest and straight judges, nay, Filipinos end where the interests of her “friends” and relatives begin. It is all a matter now of how many good citizens can do their best and protect themselves, rather than wait for GMA and her ilk to do their job as they were sworn to do. Those oaths obviously meant nothing. Especially to a good judge named Nathaniel Pattugalan, originally assigned to Cagayan, who then moved to Quezon City for his own safety. However, the guns of his enemies reached much farther than Cagayan. Nowadays, Manila’s being an “Open City” has never rang so true. Now there is a new threat to good judges everywhere. Let us repeat: Honest judges can continue to issue judgments to the best of their ability at the risk of dying after doing so. After all, who but the government failed to save Judge Pattugalan’s life? And how many more will shout for the truth only to be brought down by bullets. A question, I guess, that a few in government can answer, if their conscience would let them. In the meantime, let them know that the people are not merely watching. Mabuhay po kayo, Judge Pattugalan. Mga duwag and pumatay sa iyo.
P.S. Mr Romulo Neri, your Ateneo Batch waited for you during their anniversary. Scared off yet again? Or just plain embarassed? We thought so.