In the Grand Theft Auto series, my favorite handheld melee weapon is the golf club.  There’s nothing like swinging the damn thing all over the place, beating civilians up for their money.  There’s also a kind of fun and enjoyable carnage to be enjoyed in it.  But when your government officials start to act like Tommy Vercetti – or if there is an allegation of it taking place in the news or in the blogosphere – I bet you have the right to be pissed off.

Caffeine_Sparks has a rather interesting entry over at Filipino Voices; apparently, Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and his son, Masiu Mayor Nasser Pangandaman, beat up 56-year-old Delfin dela Paz and his son, 14-year-old Bino, at a golf course in Antipolo City.  GMA News has an interesting account of the story, and Bambee dela Paz writes an eyewitness account of what happened to her father:

We leave.  We walk to the clubhouse to file a complaint.  My brother asks for a doctor.  My dad could barely walk.  Their group comes to the clubhouse, sees my brother.  Once again my brother pleads, says sorry, and is crying.  He was CRYING, for crissakes.  But no.  The relentless mayor still punches him in the face, and then sees my dad and goes after my dad again.  Him and his friend pull my dad to the ground, pulls at his feet, and steps on him like he’s dirt.  I run to him and try to hold him back, holding him back by his shirt, while this other guy and this girl tries to stop me.  She tells me to just stop it.  I scream in her face “they’re beating my father up and you want me to stop?!”  I pull at his shirt–I don’t let go.  All I can see was my dad being trampled on.  I didn’t even see my brother getting beat up.

To be fair to the Pangandamans, I think we need to hear their side of the story.  Based from what we have to work with right now, both Pangandamans and their bodyguards beat up Delfin and Bino because of their slow playing.  The other side of the story was that the elder Pangandaman asked dela Paz to play at a faster pace in a nice way, but the latter ended up hitting the DAR Secretary with an umbrella.

A lot can be said about the issue of agrarian reform (like, say, CARP) at this point.  Heck, it’s ironic – even sarcastic – to speak of the caprices of golf when you’re running the Department of Agrarian Reform, and if you’re a mayor in one of the poorest provinces of the Philippines.  That, though, can wait for another day.

In any court of play – whether it’s a basketball court, the schoolyard, or a golf course – any elementary school student knows three basic rules that govern any and every game:

  • Play fair.
  • Play nice.
  • Wait for your turn.

In golf, discipline and sportsmanlike conduct is expected.  Whether you’re chipping away on  the sand trap or you’re putting on the green, you should always be courteous on the fairway.  Even a beginner golfer knows how to conduct himself or herself properly when on the golf course.  I don’t know if the flannel pants and the Lacoste polo shirts have something to do with the tightwad-ness of many golfers, but golf is a game that emphasizes discretion.  You don’t hurl your clubs into the manicured golfing greens, you always play the ball where it lies, and most of all, you never beat up anyone at the golf course.

Nobody, especially in the Philippines, deprives anyone of the right to re-appropriate agricultural lands to be turned into golf courses.  In golf courses and country clubs that specialize in denying access to average Filipinos, the least you could expect is to demand courtesy and respect from everyone in the course.  That is expected of everyone from our golf-happy politicians right down to the caddies who eke out a living in these places.

What pisses me off as a citizen is not as much the irony of the Pangandaman duo’s favorite pastime, but the fact that political violence – that is to say, violence that involves politicians – took place in this country.  For people who preach peace and yet engage in a pastime so ironic, the least we want right now is answers.

Unless, of course, this issue goes the way of Garci and ZTE.