CAR-SHOW model Alyzza Agustin is attractive. This fact alone would have worked wonders for her when she was recently trying to wiggle her way out of a traffic violation ticket for breaking the number-coding rule. But no—for good measure, she also whipped out the signed calling card of a high-ranking police officer in a clear attempt to intimidate the poor traffic marshal. Of course, she got away scot-free.
Not content that she got off the hook, she had to brag about it on her Facebook page. And this, as you can imagine, got her into all kinds of trouble. Not only is the police officer—Alexander Ignacio—denying that he knows Alyzza, he is now also threatening to sue her.
Not to trivialize Alyzza’s nauseating sense of entitlement, but let’s face it: Almost everyone in our society has, at one time or another, consciously taken advantage of “connections,” both real and fabricated. It takes on different forms. Cronyism, nepotism, name-dropping, networking, whatever. We live in a country where people wrongly put a premium on personal ties.
Bata ni meyor. Kumpare ni congressman. Shooting buddy ng pangulo.
The general assumption is that if you mess with somebody who knows someone with a modicum of power, you’re dead. The security guards who politely refused Makati Mayor Junjun Binay passage through a closed gate of Dasmariñas Village, learned the hard way that doing the right thing in the Philippines doesn’t result in rewards—it only results in embarrassment and retaliation.
I do not join the call to investigate Alyzza further. That, to me, is comically petty. Issue her the traffic violation ticket if you want to, but leave her alone after she settles the fine. It’s not as though we’ve suddenly stumbled upon a tightly guarded high-profile crime here. Her misdemeanor happens all the time; her error takes place everywhere.
It happens whenever you attach a “PNP” sticker to your car’s windshield. It happens when you equip your SUV with a siren. It happens when you use an “NBI” commemorative plate. It happens when you hang a “MEDIA” identification card on your rear-view mirror. And yes, it most certainly happens when you flash the calling card of a powerful individual with the intent to flout the law.
Alyzza Agustin had a momentary lapse in judgment and got flogged on social-media like her offense carried the weight of Janet Lim-Napoles’s remorseless pillage. That should be enough. The scourge of online humiliation that came her way should last her a lifetime of reminder that it’s never right to use her connections to get her way in life. If there’s anyone who should be interrogated in this case, it’s the police officer whose name is proudly printed on that calling card, however vehemently he maintains his innocence. Something tells me there’s a deeper story there.
The beautiful model committed a blunder, one almost each one of us has done in the past. Her actions merely exposed the epidemic that no one had dared talk about (not least because nearly everyone benefited from the practice). Now we know what a community of decent people thinks about it. So this calling-card culture—this padrino system—has to stop now.
Let’s stop the subtle bullying of “lowly” traffic officers by letting them know we are connected whenever they stop us for a violation. Reason out if you have to. Quote the letter of the law if you so desire. Or appeal to the traffic officer’s emotions if you’re desperate.
But please—for the love of everything that’s honorable and upright—do not mouth off the name of your cousin who works in Malacañang. Do not dial the office of a politician and hand the phone to your captor. Do not try to speak in nose-bleeding English and point out your relation to a cabinet secretary. And do not pull out the calling card of a policeman and sneer smugly as you show it off to the traffic aide.
A world where everyone is scheming to get away with everything and anything is screwed.