DUMAGUETE City, the capital of Negros Oriental, is one of the top tourist destinations in the country. It is popularly known as the “City of Gentle People.”
Businessman Dan Keener, a former US military man, who has lived in the Philippines for nearly 10 years, is among the millions around the globe who was smitten by the charm of the city in Central Visayas.
Keener has never been so confident and secure staying in Dumaguete till he was arrested by policemen on December 18, 2014 for alleged drunk driving, and thereafter found out that not all the people in the city are gentle after all. He was jailed and, worse, beaten black and blue.
In his affidavit, Keener said it all started when the motorcycle he was driving was bumped by one Marlo Villaflores.
That afternoon, Keener was formally charged, not for driving under the influence of liquor but for resistance and serious disobedience to a person in authority and slight oral defamation of a police officer.
But before the case was filed, he claimed that Supt. James Gofort, then the city’s police chief, told him that he would be set free if he shelled out some money.
“But when I refused, I was beaten [by Gofort]that resulted in serious injuries,” Keener told The Manila Times in an interview.
The case was eventually dismissed after Gofort, the witnesses and a team of special prosecutors failed to appear before the court during the hearing.
On May 22, 2015, Keener filed counter-charges against Gofort for physical injury, arbitrary detention and grave threat but the charges were dismissed right after a preliminary hearing on July23, 2015.
The decision stated, “The fact that complainant failed to complain of his alleged beating at the very first occasion that he was examined by a doctor (on December 18, 2014) raises a serious doubt as to the truthfulness of his claim, coupled with the fact that he also failed to submit to this office his medico-legal certificates on the examinations done on December18 and on December 21 , 2014. This office cannot rely solely on the medico-legal examination done on December 26, 2014, or eight days after the alleged beating; a lot of other things could have happened in the time in-between and some other causes, intentional or otherwise, could have caused the injuries suffered by the complainant.”
It said, “Moreover, the undersigned finds it unbelievable that he received ONLY about  injuries as reflected in his medico-legal certificate: this just runs contrary to his contention that he was beaten by the respondent, six  or seven  times in all. Thus the undersigned respectfully recommends that the instant complaint for physical injuries be dismissed.”
Also, Goforth, in his counter-affidavit, claimed that Keener’s allegations were all impossible to believed, saying “obviously, the physical injuries sustained by the complainant could not have been inflicted but were sustained by reason of the traffic accident which he himself admitted.”
But Keener said he was in the provincial hospital on December 18, 2014 under guard by the very police that had previously been a party to his beating.
“I was having my toe nail removed as it was dangling from my bloody right foot that had been crushed by the police,” he reasoned out.
Keener apointed out that the prosecutors did not take into consideration the “expert affidavit” of Dr. Bu Castro, a pathologist with outstanding credentials, who certified that the multiple injuries were not caused by the minor motorcycle accident.
“In summary and in general therefore, there was no impact of the other motorcycle driven by Mr. Marlo Villaflores on any part of the body of Mr. Keener. Further the motorcycle of Mr. Keener, and Mr. Keener himself, did not fall to the ground belying any assumption of injuries caused by the motorcycle incident or accident,” the doctor said.
Keener narrated that on July 23, 2014, after attending the preliminary investigation of the case he filed against Gofort, his car was firebombed at the corner of a busy street by mask men riding a motorcycle.
“The city police were called but never came,” he said.
On October 15, 2015, according to Keener, he filed a petition for review before the Department of Justice but it remains unacted to date.
On August 4, 2015, a complaint was also filed against Gofort before the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City but Keener was advised to file it before the Ombudsman Visayas, which in turn told him to file it in Manila.
“That has been passed from office to office to office to office with no action being taken,” Keener said.
A case was also filed with the Commission on Human Rights but the case also failed to prosper for lack of evidence after the City Prosecutor of Dumaguete City admitted that they have already “recycled” the audio tape of the July 23, 2015 preliminary hearing wherein Goforth allegedly made numerous self-incriminating admissions on the case filed against him.
“I am sure that when Marlo Villaflores hit my motorcycle, it was no accident,” Keener said. “I know these set ups happen all the time here, and most always the targets are foreigners. In this case, they picked the wrong guy.”
“The PNP [Philippine National Police] is usually behind it, they provide the system which they use over and over. But the real problem is much bigger than corruption, it is the larger network of impunity that protects, supports and enables the corrupt. Impunity is the air that corruption breathes, without impunity, corruption will die off. I hope for the sake of my family, and for all the Filipino people that truly love their country, we will someday see that day,” he added.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL