katrina was having a chat with angelo suarez and other friends on facebook when he was detained by MRT plainclothes peeps for alleged vandalism. she freaked out and so did i, knowing that gelo has been fiercely critical of the privatization of the MRT and, being a daily commuter, unforgiving of its neglect and poor maintenance over the years.
that the vandalism charge turned out to be trumped-up, but gelo nonetheless had to go through the harassing paces of a barangay hearing, even a medical exam of sorts, and then a QC hall of justice inquest where the case was only temporarily dismissed and the chief fiscal took his time signing the release order so that gelo had to spend not one, but two, nights in a holding room of kamuning’s station 10, was all too horribly distressing.
it could happen to any of us, and our kids, who dare be critical, not just of government but of the establishment as a whole, whose status-quo tentacles, we all know, are far-reaching, with the police and the military, more often than not, complicit in the silencing of critics. i could only be glad for gelo that his co-parent donna refused to leave him to the mercy of circumstance and that they had friends, among them katrina, adam, and chingbee, who took turns keeping him company in station 10, making sure he was never alone and could not “be disappeared” a la, ummm, jonas burgos? — yes, that’s how paranoid we can get.
a wake-up call, certainly, in these unsettling times. before she left to take her turn keeping gelo company, and on the advice of a concerned friend she had phoned, katrina put together for me a list of names and phone numbers i can call in case of anything. top of the list: a lawyer friend who promises to come to her rescue at any hour of the day or night.
calling a lawyer for help, before anything / anyone else — one who knows how to deal and negotiate with police authorities — can make all the difference. gelo did not have to spend a single night in that holding room.