The family of golfer Delfin dela Paz filed Monday child abuse charges against the sons of Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman over a brawl at the Valley Golf and Country in Antipolo last December 26.
Lawyer Raymond Fortun, the dela Paz family's attorney, said Masiu, Lanao del Sur Mayor Nasser Pangandaman Jr., his brother, Hussein, are facing two counts of slight physical injuries and two counts of child abuse for mauling dela Paz and his 14-year-old son, Bino, over a golf course altercation.
Three of the Pangandamans' bodyguards were charged with one count of slight physical injury. The criminal complaints were filed before the Antipolo City prosecutor's office.
Fortun said the family could amend the complaint to include Secretary Pangandaman based on the results of a National Bureau of Investigation probe.
Based on the dela Pazes' affidavit, Fortun said that Secretary Pangandaman was also part of the Valley Golf brawl, contrary to his initial statements that he had nothing to do with the incident.
"He was there as early as the first incident. He said: 'Ang yabang ninyo, ang tapang ninyo, mag-ingat kayo sa amin.' That's why even Bambee dela Paz got mad and said 'Nakakahiya kayo ang tanda-tanda na ng tatay ko wala na siyang ilalaban sa inyo," he said.
Because of such statements, Fortun said that the elder Pangandaman "was actually pretty much involved in that fight and had actually supported, through his moral influence, the acts made by his sons."
Fortun said that administrative cases may be filed against the Pangandamans as the offense was made in their terms as public officials. To allow the investigation to run smoothly, Fortun said that they will be asking for a preventive suspension of the DAR chief and the Lanao mayor.
At present, Fortun said Bambee dela Paz is the sole witness of the mauling incident.
"Hopefully, we can get more witnesses," he said.
Rights of a minor
Because of Republic Act 7610, Fortun said that higher penalties are now imposed against perpetrators of crimes against minors. In the case of 14-year old Bino dela Paz, Fortun said that the Pangandamans may be imprisoned for a minimum of six years and one day.
Fortun said that Nasser Pangandaman Jr.'s position as a mayor can be considered as an aggravating circumstance, and he may face the maximum penalty from 9 to 12 years of imprisonment.
"On the other hand, only a penalty of one to six months is faced by the Pangandamans for slight physical injuries against Mr. Delfin dela Paz," he said.
Claims to moral damages, Fortun said, are separate from the criminal cases filed by the dela Pazes.
Valley Golf sanctions
Meanwhile, Fortun said that the Valley Golf and Country Club will be making a decision regarding sanctions to be imposed on the dela Pazes and the Pangandamans hopefully within the week.
"Normally, banning is done by the board of directors of the club, so that's an internal matter. I understand that they'll be issuing sanctions even to my client," he said.
"I really hope that Valley Golf will see through the statements of the witnesses and will show that they are not the real aggressors since they were only defending themselves. I would like to believe that they will be fair in their decision," he said.
On the other hand, the Pangandamans would also be charging the dela Pazes for libel, saying that their false accounts of the golf brawl in media interviews damaged their family's reputation.
However, Fortun said that the prosecutors are likely to dismiss any counter-complaint made by the Pangandamans.
"It's pretty expected for them to file a case. It's only natural. But I'm pretty sure that whatever they file will be dismissed by the prosecutors," he said. With a report from Jon Ibanez, dzMM