Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Values: Stealing from Victims of Accident

Values:  Do we still have it?

Break muna tayo sa isyung pulis.  Eto muna dahil isa ito sa mga panahong tinatanong ko ang sarili ko kung gusto ko pa nga bang maging Pilipino.  Natanong ko na naman ang sarili ko kung may pag-asa pa ba ang Pilipinas bilang bansa.

MANILA. Philippines – A woman was killed after she was hit by a Victory Liner bus, which eventually fell off a ravine in Olongapo City.  About 50 passengers of the bus were injured.  The bus reportedly swerved to avoid hitting a pedestrian woman on the street in purok (subvillage) 12, barangay (village) Old Cabalan around 5 p.m.  But the woman was still struck by the bus and died on the spot, reports added.  The injured were brought to the James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Now you might be wondering: what about this accident I am about to rail about?  Accidents like these happen all too often anyway.  Well, what many viewers of the giant TV networks may not have known, this report was first broken to mainstream news media over DZXL 558 KHz on the AM band by a FOCAP photographer who happened to pass by the area minutes after the accident.  The fotog is just a passerby and not in anyway on the job at that time.  But being the journalist that he is, he stopped by to help the victims.  Afterwards, he went on his way and apparently he knows the anchor of the airing program in DZXL thus he reported it as breaking news. I personally heard it over DZXL while driving at about 6PM yesterday, April 21, 2014.  So where is my beef?

The one thing that was not mentioned in the subsequent reports of mainstream television stations GMA 7 and ABS-CBN is the one thing that struck me most in the report of that FOCAP guy.  According to him, "“THE MAIN COMPLAINT OF THE PASSENGERS OF THE VICTORY BUS WERE NOT THEIR INJURIES (AS MOST OF THEM SUFFERED ONLY MINORS ONES), BUT THE FACT THAT THEY LOST MANY OF THEIR BELONGINGS TO LOOTERS WHO CAME PURPORTEDLY TO HELP BUT INSTEAD HELPED THEMSELVES ON THE VALUABLES OF THE VICTIMS.”  This phenomenon is actually nothing new.  I once passed by a car that slammed into a lamp post in Paco, Manila because the driver lost control.  The driver was injured and he was semi conscious because of his injuries.  Seconds after the accident, I saw the squatters—two whole families; parents with their children in tow totaling to about eight persons—swarm over the car not to help the driver but rather to inspect it for whatever valuables they can steal.  And steal they almost did.  I nearly shot one of the teenagers because he was about to run away with the bag of the man—with the goading of his father.  That driver was lucky that I was there (ehem!) otherwise, he would have lost everything.

Looting an accident victim is the height of anarchy.  Once we go down to this level, our major difference from most of the other creatures in the animal kingdom is lost.  Yes, there are some policemen who are also guilty of this, but the organization is unforgiving on them.  I hope that this phenomenon, by and large, is not an accurate reflection of our society in general.  But evidence suggests otherwise.

In mainstream TV and radio stations, an act of honesty of a lowly employee like a janitor, lavandera, or a taxi driver is praised to high heavens.  What gives?  Returning an item or money left by your client is not only a moral obligation, but it is required by law because doing otherwise is criminal.  The Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code states: 

Art. 308. Who are liable for theft. — Theft is committed by any person who, with intent to gain but without violence against or intimidation of persons nor force upon things, shall take personal property of another without the latter's consent.

Theft is likewise committed by:

1. Any person who, having found lost property, shall fail to deliver the same to the local authorities or to its owner;

But praise them to high heavens we do.  While the act of praising them may encourage others to follow suit, unwittingly, we are saying that the general norm in our society today is “finders are keepers” and if you do not subscribe to it and return the item you found, you are the exception that needs to be praised.

And that is about simple lost and found yet.  Stealing from an accident victim is even far more heinous.  Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code has this to say:

Art. 310. Qualified theft. — The crime of theft shall be punished by the penalties next higher by two degrees than those respectively specified in the next preceding article, if committed by a domestic servant, or with grave abuse of confidence, or if the property stolen is motor vehicle, mail matter or large cattle or consists of coconuts taken from the premises of the plantation or fish taken from a fishpond or fishery, or if property is taken on the occasion of fire, earthquake, typhoon, volcanic erruption, or any other calamity, vehicular accident or civil disturbance. (As amended by R.A. 120 and B.P. Blg. 71. May 1, 1980).

But Filipinos steal if given a chance…office workers mooching on office bond papers to use for the projects of their children, laborers stealing construction materials from sites, waiters and dishwashers packing good food in water tight plastic bags and dropping them with trash to be retrieved later, drivers of fuel lorries passing by "paihi stations" before delivering their cargo to the clients, homeowners and PTA officers engaging in payroll padding of security guards or employing unlicensed guards and agencies to get a lower rate.  The examples cut across the whole spectrum of the Philippine society, from top level officials down to the lowliest lowlife...

So do we still wonder why our high officials entrusted with government funds steal it if given a chance?

Or is it because our leaders are thieves themselves that the ordinary folks are just following suit?

Hay, Pilipinas kong mahal…

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