The poor do not hold press conferences. They do not have the wherewithal for that. Presscons involve venue rental, food and drink enticements, sound system rental, etc.
But the Philippine National Police gave a presscon for Jose Antonio Valmonte Sanvicente, a fugitive from the law who can afford that luxury. It even allowed the fugitive’s mother to give her tearful version of how good her son was. The son who she says is good had intentionally run over a traffic enforcer almost ten days prior. The dashboard camera of a nearby car recorded it. It was no accident.
Here is the supreme irony. At least three persons in that presscon once had brushes with the law.
Vicente Danao was once suspended from his post as city director of the Davao City Police Office in 2014. His battered wife Susie Danao sued him for physical and verbal abuse under RA 9262, the Anti Violence Against Women and Their Children Act. Danao defended himself, echoing his boss Rodrigo Duterte who said that a marital spat was a private matter. The law says domestic violence is not a private matter. Vicente Danao preferred to swear to the reverse of the law.
Joel M. Sanvicente, father of the hit-and-run driver Anton, was charged in 1995 for homicide for the killing of one Dennis Wong y Chua. Sanvicente’s defense maintained Wong tried to rob him of the money he had just withdrawn from the automated teller machine of Far East Bank along Katipunan Avenue in Loyola Heights. His gun was licensed. Three days after the incident, police found Sanvicente’s Mercedes Benz car in far-away San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. Did he try to flee? The Supreme Court eventually dismissed the case in 2002.
Perhaps the biggest secret in all these is Jose Antonio V. Sanvicente’s traffic violations record. The lawyers’ blog Abogado.com made a verification in the Land Transportation Office system and found that Sanvicente has had a record of three traffic violations apprehensions in 2010, 2015 and 2016. The offenses: all reckless driving. That is quite a history.
Danao the police chief began the presscon by making a clown of himself. “Last Sunday meron po tayong insidente, ng banggaan po that happened somewhere sa isang mall dito po sa isang area sa Mandaluyong. And a very unfortunate incident wherein one SUV nakasagasa po ng isang guard . . . na siguro out of confuseness (sic; surely he meant “confusion”), medjo na rattle po yung driver. Instead of heeding at stopping para tulungan po yung nabangga, siya po ay tumakbo. Siguro dahil out of fear dahil nga yung guard ay may armas, maaring natakot po yung tao mismo. And for today we are very fortunate that our call for him to come out in the open to address the matter at hand, nandito po ngayon sa atin pong himpilan, sa loob po ng headquarters po ng ating Philippine National Police, in the person po mismo, yung owner po, yung registered owner ng vehicle in the person of Mr. Jose Antonio Valmonte Sanvicente. And he is accompanied by his parents, si Sir Joel atsaka si Mam, and he is also accompanied by their family lawyer. Ok? So para po mabigyan po natin ng liwanag ang pag run over ng SUV na ito doon sa ating security guard, I am now turning over the mike, dito po on my right, yun atin pong family atsaka yung lawyer po.”
Never mind that he acted as the emcee to introduce the Sanvicente son. Worst, and he never probably figured out what simpleton he would become, he acted as apologist for the erring driver. In fact, it was he who acted more as the family lawyer. In the process of defending Sanvicente as having been rattled (Mrs. Sanvicente also echoes that, in effect disabusing the truth, as recorded, that the run-over was intentional), Danao also turns the tables on the victim Christian Joseph Floralde as a man who was feared by Sanvicente because Floralde as a guard was armed. Danao is an incredible PNP chief for his imbecility.
After all that celebrated presscon, Anton Sanvicente was not placed under police custody. There was no surrender. Only his Toyota RAV4 car was surrendered.
Vertudez “Daisy” Macapanpan did not have the privilege of a presscon emceed by the PNP chief. She was arrested on June 11 in Pakil, Laguna by PNP Special Action Force (SAF) members in full battle gear. She was pulled and dragged by her hands and feet then loaded into a police vehicle. She was arrested without a warrant. The arresting party brought a warrant without Daisy’s name on it.
Daisy Macapanpan is an environmental activist opposing the dam that will be built on Mount Inumpog in the Sierra Madre range. Pakil residents fear the dam will involve the massive cutting of trees that will lead to flooding and landslides in local communities.
The signature brand of the so-called Duterte Legacy is the weaponization of the law against the poor but is soft on law offenders who have the means and the influence. It is an ages-old injustice that Duterte was never able to correct because he himself and his political dynasty family perpetuate it.
It is not a coincidence that Vicente Danao presides over the PNP at the tail end of the Duterte reign. He is one of Duterte’s fair-haired boys, a Davao city creation like Bato dela Rosa who probably knows Duterte’s secrets of how the Philippine National Police was transformed as a monstrosity of lawbreakers and killers.