An open letter to a killer

YOU pulled a gun and alighted from your puny car to kill a man armed with a bicycle. You shot him in cold blood while your little child was crying in the backseat of your car. Then you drove away, unaware that your bullet penetrated the body of a young lady. Tell me, do you even know what she looks like?

It appears to me that you are the kind of guy who walks with a swagger not because of what you have accomplished, but by association with an institution created precisely out of the need for peace, namely, the Philippine Army. Your car window displays an Army sticker. Your car’s glove compartment houses your gun. When the cyclist reached out to extend a hand to you, the gesture was lost—all you saw was his bike leaning against your car.

I cannot believe that a guy who saw your Army sticker and had leaned in to shake your hand would curse you in front of your lady companion and daughter. He had clearly won the fistfight. The way he was walking toward home, not on his bike but with his bike, was a sign of dissipated anger. I think he sensed that something was coming but was still wishful that it wouldn’t be so. That is probably why he kept looking behind his shoulder, trying to gauge what you would do next.

Everyone knows your name now, Mr. Vhon Martin Tanto. In media reports, you were quoted as saying that the cyclist provoked your anger because of his aggressive attitude. “I honked at Garalde to know if he was okay when he told me I was too arrogant on my driving and even cursed me.” You should have just gone on your way. As an army reservist, you have had sufficient training to know when brute force ought to be used. Besides, when the altercation transpired your little girl was sleeping in the backseat and a woman, most likely your wife, was seated beside you. The man who cursed you was by himself, riding a bicycle—inconsequential to your day.

You have publicly apologized and even your wife continues to share that burden of forgiveness, as she tries to plead with the victim’s family for forgiveness. Your black eye will soon recover but the victim never will. You have silenced him, with every bullet blowing away his family’s dreams. Literally, you took his breath away.

And so I write this, out of pity for the Garalde family and with deepest sympathies for 18-year old Rocel Bondoc, an innocent bystander hit by a stray bullet that entered the left side of her back and grazed her kidney. Rocel is on her way to full recovery. Unfortunately, according to her aunt, the healing process may cause Rocel to drop out of school. Hey, Vhon. Are you aware that Rocel is a college scholar? You nearly killed an achiever, a young lady of whom much is expected.

I write this open letter because there may be more Vhon Martins out there. Some clad in real uniforms. Now that’s the scary part. A police or military uniform can serve as a badge of immunity when the killer has patrons for protection, and concocted stories that make executions a calling card for justice.

To bear arms irresponsibly because you can when most of us even don’t brings someone closer to the graveyard. When angered, know that there is virtue in being the first to walk away. We are all God’s children. You have no right to think you are more powerful because you own a gun. You don’t grow bigger balls because of it. You just end up behind bars where size does matter.


Manila Times Link: Policy Wink

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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