THE public will comprehend more quickly the violent and tragic events that took place in Ozamiz City last July 30, if it views them from the perspective of the state’s (government’s) perennial conflict with organized crime.
When we view the incident as more than just a battle between the police and a criminal gang, we can see the bigger actors in the conflict, and the greater stakes involved, such as the welfare and security of the local community and the nation.
We see the gruesome bodies of the 15 people who were killed, and we flinch. We see and hear the voices of those who were involved in the battle, and we get the assurance that our government won this battle.
Looking at it as the outcome of police operations against organized crime, we get some distance from the grisly details. We see things in the abstract of law and order, and not in the concrete of dead bodies and deadly weapons.
Organized crime is defined by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as “any group having some formalized structure and whose primary objective is to obtain money through illegal activities.”
Under this definition, various organizations—crime syndicates, gangs, drug cartels, Chinese triads, the Yakuza, the Mafia (also known as La Cosa Nostra)—fall into the category of organized crime. Prostitution rings and illegal gambling dens when operated as businesses can also fall into the category.
From Wikipedia, I got the following snapshot: “Organized crime is a category of transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals who intend to engage in illegal activity, most commonly for money and profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist groups, are politically motivated.
Gangs may become disciplined enough to be considered organized. A criminal organization or gang can also be referred to as a mafia, mob, or crime syndicate; the network, subculture and community of criminals may be referred to as the underworld.
European sociologists define the mafia as a type of organized crime group that specializes in the supply of extra-legal protection and quasi law enforcement. Some have written an economic study of the Mafia, and this in turn has spawned studies of the Russian Mafia, the Chinese Mafia, Hong Kong Triads, and the Japanese Yakuza.
It’s not idle speculation or fear-mongering to say that Filipino crime lords and gangsters have thought also of building for themselves a Filipino mafia. From the many media accounts of the Ozamiz incident and the Parajinog family, Kuratong Baleleng, their legions of soldiers, and the network of protection that they enjoyed from the police, the judges and local governments, the Parajinog family probably came closest to successfully building a Filipino mafia.
It is against this perspective of preventing a Filipino mafia from taking root here at home, that I see the significance of President Duterte’s twin war on illegal drugs and crime. The menace is real. His program is clear and unassailable.
The Ozamiz incident is one battle in this war.
Crime in the movies
We are rightly warned not to get carried away by the movies, but as a film buff I contend that the good crime films have a penetrating insight into the underworld.
The PNP operation in Ozamiz, the saga of the Parajinogs, and the frightening reach of Kuratong Baleleng become more comprehensible to me when I view them from the lens of the cinema.
Take the story of Los Angeles, California, and how its police repelled an attempt by a powerful crime boss from taking over crime in the West mafia style.
The LA story is told in a rousing film entitled, “Gangster Squad”, featuring such stars as Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.
The plot goes as follows:
The setting is Los Angeles, 1949. A tough mob boss (Sean Penn) and his gang have virtually taken over the city, with police and judges in his pocket. The police commissioner hires an American war hero (Josh Brolin) with two Purple Hearts to form a squad of six, and they are tasked with stopping and expelling the crime boss: “The mob must never get a foothold in Los Angeles.” The war veteran forms his team, each member a tough guy in his own right. He tells the team; “We’re not going to build cases: We are going to war.”
The ensuing war is bloody and costly all the way to the finish. The mob boss is tough as nails. But the war vet is tougher. He knows better how to fight a war.
Towards the end, the war hero, counting all the losses and wins, reflects:
“You lose everything, you win the war, you’re a hero.”
But then he also says:
“You lose everything, you lose the war, you’re a fool.”
In the end, the mob gets no foothold in Los Angeles. The city of angels, says the narrator, was totally secured from the mafia.
Our crime problem is real
To sum up, the plot of “Gangster Squad” has the ring of authenticity. The characters are impressively drawn. The tactics of the police and the tactics of the mob resemble what see in our country today.
What happened in Ozamiz should convince us all that organized crime is a real threat in our country, and the war on drugs is really necessary.
Worrying about the human rights of criminal gangs is a luxury for the opposition.
With the Espinosas of Leyte and the Parajinogs of Ozamiz City, there are too many dead bodies. But we should be in no doubt that there are other criminal gangs and narco-politicians in the land.
Did DU30 watch “Gangster Squad”? Maybe not. But he or Bato may have seen” The Untouchables” and “LA Confidential”.
Of course, the bad guys go to the movies too.
Fortunately, they do not win on film.