Law of José Antonio V. Sanvicente

Thank goodness it was recorded on someone’s mobile video.

The victim, Christian Joseph Floralde, was seen lying on the road, apparently grimacing in pain after a white Toyota RAV4 with registration NCO3781 hit him. The SUV stopped, of course, because any driver can feel such an impact from inside the vehicle. But with part of Floralde’s body still under the vehicle, the driver ran him over – and then disappeared.

What ruthless vanity and what pure and simple contempt for human life!

As a traffic cop, Floralde was doing her job directing the flow of vehicles on Julia Vargas Street in the city of Mandaluyong this Sunday, June 5. At the very least, it makes the SUV driver responsible for ignoring a traffic cop.

Then the elected senator JV Ejercito entered the scene as an intermediary. He set up an alert on his Facebook account, announcing a “P50,000 reward for any information regarding this evil, idiotic driver who deliberately ran over a traffic cop”. He added that the family of the missing driver had contacted him.

For raising awareness of the incident, Ejercito is to be commended. He followed up with a Tweeter: “Jose Antonio San Vicente, surrender.” The Land Transportation Office (LTO) had identified the person to whom the vehicle is registered and its assigned driver at the time of the incident as Jose Antonio V. Sanvicente, son of Joel Sanvicente.

Notice the behavior of the Sanvicente family. Their first instinct was not to deliver the son but to run to a politician for help. In fact, when police officers attempted to visit their home in Diliman, Quezon City, the subdivision guards refused them entry. This is another typical behavior.

In our social system, it is not uncommon to seek legal assistance from politicians who willingly play the role of padrino to their constituents. But this padrino system of ensuring that votes arrive at election time does not always work in favor of the law. Many politicians are themselves lawbreakers. In fact, unverified rumors on social media claim that the Sanvicentes are relatives of a senior official in the Duterte cabinet.

Why do these kinds of rumors circulate?

The actual practice induces it. It is very common in our social system for the high and powerful in the halls of power to protect their family members and loved ones who face the dilemmas of their breaking the law.

Eventually, Mr. and Mrs. Joel Sanvicente could turn their son over to the authorities as their choices run out to escape the law. If they really have protectors, they can resort to an amicable settlement with Floralde. In which case, Floralde should refuse. José Antonio V. Sanvicente must be prosecuted and imprisoned.

On June 6, the day after the shocking incident, police filed charges of Frustrated Murder and Violation of the Revised Penal Code with the Mandaluyong Public Prosecutor’s Office against the young Sanvicente for abandoning his victim. This is a test to see if the law will catch the Sanvicentes who had instead run to a politician for help, even though they may apparently have ties to a powerful government official to protect them.

Obstruction of justice complaints have also been filed against the three subdivision security guards who twice denied entry to police. Last Saturday, June 11, still no Sanvicente had shown up to comply with an LTO summons. For such behavior, this family cannot blame the public perception that they must indeed have powerful backers in government.

Almost five years ago, Kian Lloyd delos Santos didn’t have the same luck as Jose Antonio V. Sanvicente. Kian was found guilty of nothing. In fact, the young man’s death at the hands of police was also accidentally captured on video, his pleas to be spared – he had an exam the next day, he cried – ignored.

If Kian was the son of wealthy Filipinos who live in a gated community, can afford a Toyota RAV4, run for the mediation of a senator in trouble, and have protectors in the upper reaches of government, he could still be alive today.

There are two types of laws in the Philippines: one for the rich, another for the poor.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of VERA files.

About Marjorie C. Hudson

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