The death of Ted Failon’s wife, PNP cruelty and the continuing media spectacle

Trina Etong, wife of popular broadcaster and former congressman Ted Failon, died last night from the gunshot wound on her head. Her body has been brought to Arlington funeral homes.

Up to now, we have yet to get some sense of the incident, no thanks to outrageous developments from the side of the Philippine National Police units handling the case. Okay, the crime scene has been cleaned up — Failon and his household help should be made to answer for it — but that is no excuse for cops to go ballistic or opt for cruelty in a vain attempt to cover up the the obvious lack of forward movement in the official investigation.

My friends tonight are so revolted by the PNP’s cruel way of “inviting” Trina’s relatives for the inquest proceedings. I share their anger and grave disappointment that the officers of the law had to act this way. The PNP should not wonder why Filipinos distrust them cops so much. This is only the latest in a long string of acts of police brutality, cruelty and abuse that are embedded in our minds. (This is perhaps one of the reasons why many Filipinos love the CSI programs on free TV and cable. We pine for a competent, thinking police force capable of solving crime. We are sick and tired of the bumbling cops faithfully portrayed in the movies — corrupt, pot-bellied or arrives at the crime scene only after the assailants have fled. We can only dream now as we watch those CSI programs and crime and suspense channels on cable.)

I am honestly disappointed at how ABS-CBN handled the Failon incident since the other day. True, the network appealed for respect to the Failon family’s privacy but I was surprised that the network was all over the Failon residence, having an exclusive interview with Failon and having exclusive access to Trina’s room at the New Era hospital. Was that call for privacy nothing more than an announcement of an impending series of scoops for ABS-CBN.

Unfortunately for ABS-CBN, the Failon incident is no wedding, Papal visit or some other event that may be given an “exclusive” mark to it without stepping on ethical and legal questions. Being a crime scene, the Failon residence should not have been cordoned off to keep the other media networks away. Besides, the incident has left so many unanswered questions and many more are forthcoming, that thoughtful but comprehensive coverage may be most warranted at this time.

Those orphaned by Trina’s death and all Filipinos deserve to know the truth. We are already shocked by the incident and we do not wish to be shocked further by cruel and incompetent police actions and by media spectacles that trivialize the loss of a life. Even as the police must spare no effort to ferret out the truth, our law enforcers must also allow the affected family members and the nation to grieve.

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