“There is no justification for what suspect Dr. Chiao Tiao Yumul did and it must be condemned by all men and women of good will”
The gangland style shooting at the Arete inside the Ateneo de Manila campus in Quezon City that claimed the lives of ex-Lamitan, Basilan mayor Rosita Furigay, her executive assistant, Victor George Capistrano, and campus security guard Jeneven Bandiola is an utterly deportable and condemnable act that cannot be tolerated by any decent and right-thinking person.
There is no justification for what suspect Dr. Chiao Tiao Yumul did and it must be condemned by all men and women of good will. Only evil people can justify his actions.
That is why I was taken aback by the terrible disinformation around the killings, one that portrayed the accused murderer as an aggrieved, oppressed citizen, as a vigilante for justice.
We must also condemn then those who later propagated. a narrative of a killer who was justified in his actions because of an imagined injustice (the closure of his clinic which was not even an act by the Lamitan city government but of the BARMM) or because of baseless accusations.
Mayor Rosita Furigay’s governance record is exemplary; that is for everyone to see.
That her reputation and that of the Furigay family is unfairly tainted through social media by architects of disinformation who have their own agenda is disturbing.
We need to combat this false narrative vigorously, and that also means holding social media platforms like Facebook/Meta accountable for allowing such narrative to become viral and for allowing the killer to have a platform to attack the Furigays even before this incident.
At this point let me quote the statement of the Movement Against Disinformation (MAD), which I serve as founding President, to condemn the killings.
“The shooter was allegedly motivated by a personal vendetta against the ex-mayor. His social media profiles revealed that he supports vigilante justice and is strongly against prominent figures of the opposition, as well as journalists and networks that he perceived as ‘biased.’
“However, ex-mayor Furigay’s track record tells a different story. During her 9-year term, she was seen as a caring mother to her constituents, especially to the poor. She was known to be an advocate for peace in Mindanao and had received awards for her projects on infrastructure and social services.”
MAD also points out the role of social media platforms “in radicalizing and sowing violence in the hearts and minds of its users. With inadequate and ineffective safeguards, social media platforms become instruments to the spread of disinformation and hate speech online, have enabled and emboldened online violence to crossover to real world violence.”
The MAD manifesto expresses alarm over certain individuals who “transform the narrative of the shooter to garner public’s sympathy, thus confusing and diluting the problems of violence and impunity that have manifested in this incident.”
MAD continues: “Instead of addressing the problems, the lies and false narratives that freely circulate in the social media platforms, are diverting the public’s attention to conspiracy theories and red-tagging.”
We appealed to social media platforms, particularly Meta/Facebook, “to rein in the spread of lies and disinformation relating to this incident, which just obscures the truth that online violence and impunity translate to real world hate and harm.”
On a personal note, let me disclose that I am a long-time professor of Ateneo Law School.
I have taught many of the students whose graduation was the reason for the gathering at the Arete.
What was supposed to be a day for celebrations became a day of tragedy and mourning.
I must also disclose that Hannah Furigay, the daughter of the slain former mayor who was also injured and now recovering from her injuries, was my student two years ago in a course titled International Environmental Law Practice.
In other interviews, I have described Hannah as a brilliant and excellent student.
The course is interactive, with students participating in climate negotiation games and climate justice moot courts and Hannah excelled in that.
She was also a member of the Ateneo Law School moot court team in the Stetson environmental law competition and that showed in her performance in class.
She was insightful, articulate, and passionate. The final requirement was an oral exams and she also aced that, so I ended up giving her the highest grade you could give in Ateneo Law School alongside a few of her classmates.
Hannah was definitely interested in environmental law as her thesis on the rights of nature was brilliant.
I think her being from Mindanao and Basilan formed the way she thought of law and its connection to nature, land, and even people.
I have been to Lamitan several times in the last 30 years and I know what the Furigays have done with their city, and it is good.
And to all my law students, in Ateneo and elsewhere, especially those who witnessed what happened in Arete: do not be paralyzded by trauma and fear.
Let us act collectively against impunity, against violence, and, yes, against disinformation.
It has been said that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.
There is a time when good men and women must stand up for what’s right, even when it involves risk. And that time is now!