Monday, August 25, 2014

CCTV Footage Of Shooting Incident In La Trinidad And The Emergence Of Conspiracy Theories

So far it's the most tragic crime to have occurred this year in the normally peaceful town of La Trinidad in Benguet. Alcohol, hot tempers, and a firearm that some say shouldn't have been there coalesced into a sad night for the town. Two good men lost their lives. One man got injured. And the man behind it all is a 29-year-old police officer.

What happened? Did he snap? Was his intoxication the main trigger for the event? Or is there a bigger picture? A picture that might have included an intention to slay. That there might have been a motive even before police officer Frenzel Mendoza and his three companions entered the Midtown Bar & Restaurant in Poblacion, La Trinidad. These are of course conspiracy theories. And as conspiracy theories go, only time and vigilant investigation will tell if they are true or otherwise. It would be unwise to either believe or dismiss them outright. The wisest thing to do would be to stand on neutral ground.

A rather accusatory blog about the shooting incident has been making its rounds online recently. Here's the link to said blog but be warned that it contains sweeping accusations and knee-jerk conclusions. This is not to say that all of the blog's points are without validity. The blog has several interesting points that are worthy of a conversation. But as we mentioned earlier, these are conspiracy theories and thus it would be best to weigh them well first before coming up with a conclusion. As mere observers of the talk and chatter relevant to the incident, we have the right to come up with our own conclusions but it would be unfair to the parties involved if we spew out our conclusions as truth.

Footage taken of the incident from a CCTV camera can now be viewed on YouTube after being uploaded by what we suspect as the same people behind the blog mentioned above. The footage shows commotion happening in front of the bar. A group of young people are ganging up on police officer Mendoza who at one point on the video is seen on his knees and being kicked in the head. Cesar Degay (owner of the bar) and Sonny Awingan (security guard) were trying to break the scuffle. For a moment, it seemed that the two men were able to drive off Mendoza's attackers. That's when Mendoza suddenly brought out his firearm and shot Degay and Awingan.

Below is a the video taken by CCTV cameras installed in the area. Be warned that the video is graphic and it shows the exact moments when Degay and Awingan were shot at close range. If you don't have the stomach for such acts, you can watch a cut-edited and tamer version of the video on a news report by TV Patrol Northern Luzon. It's the second embedded video below. The segment on the incident starts at the 20:55 mark.

The almost precise and calm way that the police officer committed the act is part of the ammunition being used by theorists in saying that the killing was planned. Some people even go as far as to say that La Trinidad mayor Edna Tabanda had a hand with it. It's a theory that can be rightly described as absurd. These theories have a good side though as they foster inquiry and conversation. They serve as conversation-starters. They force people to start talking and be involved in the relevant issues of the day.

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