• ‘Impunity is the air that corruption breathes’

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    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 [10] injuries as reflected in his medico-legal certificate: this just runs contrary to his contention that he was beaten by the respondent, six [6] or seven [7] 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

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    9 Comments

    1. I have travelled to many countries around the world and always wondered why the philippines was not a popular mainstream tourist country as it is really a beautiful country.
      At the end of 2014 i personally found out why.As a person from a more privaleged country when i see people working hard and getting paid little for their efforts i try to help out where i can.
      In this particular case it was a filipino guy i was training to become a divemaster for free,what i didn’t know was the police were paying 10000 pesos for filipinos to set up foreigners to extort for their christmas bonuses.so he set
      me up the police stole all my belongings over 500000 pesos worth then tried to get more money the chief wanted 200000 1 wanted me to pay for his wedding and 1 his christmas bonus when i couldn’t pay they fabricated a case against us and we ended up in jail for a month and a half.
      The trial still going 2 years on with no end as we have no trial for 6 months now the judge who drove a bmw x5 retired when duterte started investigating corruption the lawyer we were paying kept dragging out the case till we run out of money the court appoin

      • Dan norman Keener on

        Hi Mark,
        President Duterte has set up an action center that responds to such issues as your, despite that it happened before he took office.

        Write a letter statement and include your supporting documents to;

        To: The President of the Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte
        Through the Presidential Action Center Bahay Ugnayan
        Malacanang Palace
        1000 Jose P Laurel Sr, San Miguel, Manila

    2. Well done Mr. Keener but I can’t help to wonder why if there were cases filed by you & against you why the article does not mention other names except Gofort, yours & the tricycle driver? Who was the City prosecutor? The police that beat you up? Names, names names have to be published so the public may be informed… it is public document once it reached the courts, the public, the readers deserve to know unless The Manila Times censored you? If that was the case then shame on them.

      • Hi Rosalinde, I cannot speak for the Manila Times, all I do know is they are the only media that would cover this case at all and all other media outlets where asked, CNN Philippines actually hung up on me when I told them what it is about so there you have it. So to the Manila Times I am grateful. There is the retaliation aspect when you expose the corrupt here that is inherent in this culture as again, those who may kill you also enjoy the same impunity mentioned in my story. Besides having my car firebombed in broad day light with hundreds of onlookers none of whom said they saw what happened, I have also had dozens of death threats and 4 cases to deport me, all from “confidential” complainants and all with 100% bogus charges. I will give you the rest of the names via my email at captaindan47@yahoo.com, on 1 condition. that is that you act and not just want this information for entertainment. I am doing my part, I cannot do it all alone. Thank you

    3. Hm . Interesting to note. No attendance at the hearing by anybody.
      Wow then why charge the man if you are not going to bear witness against him.
      Why was his car firebombed and why were the police not in attendance when called?
      Since when is the expert medical evidence considered incorrect by an untrained nonmedical person and admissable as an evidentary evidence against the complainants charge?
      How is it that all the “real” evidence like taped interview wiped or missing?
      In a cirumstance as this there are many people involved in procedures before charges and court come into effect.
      ALL must have had an option to direct justice on its true course. Their obvious failure in doing so makes them equally accountable in Philippine and INTERNATIONAL law under a lack of duty of care. These people better start selling their assets when the judgements come in from the international torts.
      Good luck Dan Keener.

    4. Business as usual!
      When police officers and officials actively seek to extort money from not only foreigners, but Filipinos as well and all involved from the bottom all the way up to the top usually have some form of culpability,
      These criminals (police & officials) operate with impunity. No checks and balances will work in this “Good old Boy” network. Shameful and downright disgusting is the behavior of the majority of PNP, and all other agencies supposedly in place to “serve and protect” average, everyday folks, foreigners or not.
      Although it may be a rough go, others can learn from Mr. Keener’s example. Bravo!

    5. if more foreigners who had legit grievances or been victims come out to let the public know then maybe things can get better. get more cases out there in the open! good for you Dan Keener for fighting back! The Manila Times should follow up on this case

    6. Kudos to Dan Keener for standing up to corrupt police. All too often ‘foreigners’ are subjected to false charges and demands for money by police hell bent on teaching us ‘who is the boss’ and that we ‘have no rights here’ when all they do is teach us how corrupt and backward they are. I am proud to call a number of Filipino police men and women my friends – they are good people. Sadly some police here are rotten and they need to be rooted out before even the good ones get a bad name.

      • I disagree strongly that the police are “good people” with some “rotten”. Not a single policeman could work within the policing structure and not see obvious and overt corruption, daily. Good people would never remain silent, as they do. Either you got balls enough to be a cop or you don’t.