Malilong: Of road rage and fair play

Frank Malilong

OUR love for the underdog is legendary. So when a person cruising in a Mercedes Benz shoots another who was driving “only” a Toyota sedan, you know who is going to gain condemnation and who is going to get public sympathy.

It didn’t help the Benz man’s case that someone took a video of him being the aggressor, firing a gun at an adversary who was visibly unarmed. The recording does not show the events that preceded the shooting but it matters very little to a public that is inured to the sporting concept of a level playing field and of allowing every man a chance to defend himself. Even in road rage.

We should not, however, commit the mistake of turning this into a class war, of rich versus poor. I read the comments of readers in Mayor Tommy Osmeña’s Facebook page and a recurring theme was that David Lim Jr. versus Ephraim Nuñal was between strong and weak instead of between guilty and innocent.

But if Lim has been demonized, he also has himself partly to blame. It would have been understandable that he fled the scene because he was confused or scared if he showed up at the police headquarters once his mind cleared up later in the day.

Lim Jr. has no choice but to give himself up not only because the Cebu city mayor has ordered the police to hunt him down but more importantly so that he can give his side of the story. He cannot lose his case by default even in a trial by publicity.

•••

The last two weeks must have been dreadful in Cebuano businessman Peter Lim’s already nightmarish life. Early this month, his brother, David Sr. figured in a traffic accident that killed a fish dealer. And then came David Jr.’s own brush with the law.

You can choose your friends but not your relatives but for Peter Lim, the expression offers very little consolation, if at all. The two incidents couldn’t have come at a worse time for him. Not when you’re at the receiving end of repeated accusations from no less than the president himself of being a drug lord.

What is sad for Lim is that notwithstanding President Duterte’s frequent mention of his name when discussing the country’s drug problem, no charges have been filed against him. He’s in the same boat with former Cebu City mayor Michael Rama: publicly accused of a crime but without any platform to defend himself and clear his name.

In between public appearances to disprove rumors that he has fled the country, Lim has generally kept himself away from the limelight. He has always maintained a low profile even long before the president announced on national television rumors, that to this day remain unproven and unverified, linking him to the illegal drug trade.

And then came the two incidents involving his brother and his nephew. He played no part in either incident and yet his name is mentioned almost as frequently as David Sr. and David Jr. and almost in the same light. It’s unfair to the man but as they say, when it rains, it pours.