Monday, July 09, 2007

Part 3 of "Broken and in Pieces" in Angeles City

If you've been following this story, well, it’s worse than we thought. It turns out that the entire accident was staged; it was a set-up from before the word go. I just got off the phone with my friend, and he says in a combination of disgust, anger and trepidation that he will probably pull out of the Philippines as soon as he recovers. This is from a man who loves this country more than his own. He might change his mind, but what faith he had had in the people here is now shaken to the core.

His buddy, the man who saw the entire thing unfold, evidently put a kink in their evil plans by being there and messing up their scheme. They wondered why the police SUV continued to pass the scene back and forth at least three times without stopping, and its only now that the reason is starting to gel.

At the hospital emergency room one of the supposed investigating officers came up to them with a sketch of the accident scenario. It was an entirely made up thing, in complete defiance of reality. It showed my friend coming out of a side street on his scooter, a street he did NOT come out of, and it showed a nonexistent motorcycle that is supposed to have struck him before veering off and running into some vendors stands. The sketch also showed debris and broken vendors stands.

Upon looking at the faked sketch, my friend’s witness-buddy spoke out loudly in protest, stating that it was nothing like that at all. He stridently proclaimed with complete assuredness that there had been no motorcycle and no one and nothing else was involved in the collision, other than the murderous jeepney and driver and his nearly killed friend on his scooter.

So, two things happened to counter their nefarious plan that they hadn’t counted on: 1) my friend didn’t die in the head-on collision, and 2) the witness wasn’t supposed to be there to see so exactly what really happened.

The witness-buddy immediately went back to the scene in a trike to check on the scooter and confirmed that indeed there was NO debris, and NO wrecked vendor’s stands. In fact, there was no scooter there anymore, since the police had confiscated it.

He also approached the doorman of the bar where the whole thing started from and spoke to him to feel out what he saw. Turns out he too is part of the scheme. He said smiling, “Oh yeah, your friend pulled out in front of the motorcycle.”

Uh oh! We now realize that this is getting ugly and dangerous, because it’s obvious that a policeman or two is involved in this as well as the doorman, and who knows who else. As soon as I heard this news I told him urgently that his life is now in immediate danger. I told him to take precautions and NOW, because the cops involved will not hesitate to kill to protect themselves by covering their tracks. He got quiet when he realized I was right.

So he has now moved to a new hospital in a different town and is there under an assumed name. I asked him not to tell me the name of the hospital. That’s right people; these are the precautions one must take here—it’s a sickening fact.

We also learned that inexplicably there appears to be no blotter on the accident. It seems that the “inconvenience” of a foreigner witness who could not “be got to” or paid off, may well have frightened off the perpetrators of this foulness. I told him that we could look to contact a good cop or politician in as high a position as possible to seek protection, or we can wait and see if the crooked men running this scheme are going to just let it go. I told him the latter might be better than the former. Sometimes it’s better to leave the snake alone after it’s missed with its first strike and let it move on to another quarry.

I was considering no longer writing about this subject, especially now that it seems that its more than just a drunken local who caused a potentially deadly accident, or even more than just some con-men looking for a quick payoff from a foreigner. Nope, it is much worse than that. This is seriously frightening business because of WHO exactly is involved.

I decided to go ahead and write this as a warning to people who are already in Angeles City and who came here as I did in good faith, as well as to people considering moving here. Please listen: This is a very dangerous place. The pitfalls are many. You can try with all your might to avoid them by keeping a low profile and following all the rules, such as they are, but once the local predators get you in their sights there is no escape. It might well take many years of running with the “foreigner herd,” but eventually you WILL get culled out. Once that happens there is very little you can do about it unless you are good friends with the mayor or the police chief.

My friend has either lived here or has been coming here for over 20 years; he LOVED this place. So much so that I was shocked to hear him say today that he thinks its time to go. It could just be the throbbing pain in his shattered leg causing his despondence, but I don’t think so.

As for me, as soon as I finish my GI Bill benefits, I’m out of Angeles City. I really don’t feel like waiting for my turn in the slaughter pen. Its one thing to shear us or milk us, but its an entirely different animal when you learn that people are willing to wantonly kill us for a few bucks.

I’m sure there are other places in this country that a foreigner can live with his family without constantly having to worry about this stuff. It’s time to seriously start looking for a plan B. (see part 4)


Ed said...

I finally got caught up on this incredible story. Makes me glad that I mostly hire a driver when going somewhere in the RP. Also, though I like the Philippines and it is cheap living, I never have had a desire to do more than just visit. This strengthens that thought.

PhilippinesPhil said...

You're a smart man Ed, and you'll be smarter to avoid this town. Visiting tourists are continuously nabbed here in various ways and no one ever hears about it. It's like an iceberg; all you see is the little tip sticking out of the water.

Duane k said...

This is very distrubing indeed.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Disturbing AND frightening... Tends to bring on paranoia like a big dog. You got to watch your back, your front, your flanks...

KA said...

go to the more rural areas.

Amadeo said...

Needless to say, what happened to your fellow ex-pat is very despicable.

I am not really privy to the peace and order situation in Angeles City, but if this horrible scheme is typical then it must be a bad place to live in.

I cannot think of any similar situation happening in our part of Northern Mindanao, and it shares common experiences in population diversity as in that part of Luzon. While the local conditions may not be ideal, I do not believe they are as bad as you described.

Indeed, maybe moving away from the place may be a good alternative. And I would be happy to get people acquainted with some good folks in our place. Even the cost of living may be more hospitable in our part of the country.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Thanks, I very well might take you up on your offer Amadeo...

Anonymous said...

I agree with Amadeo. Mindanao is entirely different from Luzon. It has the feel of a new and dynamic place, which indeed it is since a hundred years ago it was nearly all virgin territory. They have wider and cleaner streets, and apparently the government actually does things for the people in many other ways we don't see here in Luzon.

Where else in the country will you find clean CRs in public markets? Not just clean but free! The one in Iligan is so clean you're required to remove your shoes and put slippers on before entering. Some of the CRs in Luzon charge 5 pesos and they don't even pretend to clean them!

Once in a while I see a reference to splitting up the country. If that were to actually occur I think Mindanao would do very well on its own. I'm thinking of moving there as well.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Hmmm. You guys have got me thinking. I've recently been to Davao and to Cagayan de Oro. I particularly liked Davao, although I was not impressed with the mayor of Davao City's public response to the bogus charges and subsequent wrong guilty verdict against the falsely accused American Marine, Daniel Smith. Obviously, the boy was set up by the local authorities, much like is in play with my friend's case. If there is a single reason not to live here, its the rampant corruption in the police forces and the government's apparent blind eye to it. It's got to be very disheartening to Filipinos who know this problem exists and are too frightened to try to stop it. As foreigners, all we can do is try to avoid it, but sometimes they get you anyway. Then again, in the USA we have malicious prosecutors like Mike Nifong. Thing is, looks like he got his comeuppance, something that never happens here...