Tourist Shot Dead in Angeles City

Street justice is a not uncommon occurrence in the Philippines.   I hear most people promote it.  Not just in the Philippines  but in the states too.  I police_cardon’t know how Filipino feel about it.   My girlfriend has talked of street justice in a matter of fact way.

A few days ago, Jerry Melton who was 51  years old was shot dead in the early morning hours in Angeles City.  It has left his family and friends seeking answers.  I don’t know what happened but what I read in the paper, basically a drive by shooting, is the kind of thing that happens when families or gangs have a score to settle.

They will usually wear a helmet, there will usually be two of them on the bike and they will quickly vanish into the crowd.  Its a highly effective way to strike and makes it hard to identify.  Keep in mind there are more people on motor cycles than in cars.

Mandaue City which is just north of Cebu City, has seen a lot of slayings using this method.  I say a lot but that is a lot in Filipino terms, not American terms.

I don’t know much about Angeles City.  What I do know is that it is a place where expats go to party.  The US Air Force had a base here but left in the early 90’s at the urging of the people of the Philippines.

It is a city of bars, disco’s an very pretty women.  In some bars, girls working there are allowed to leave with the customers if they pay a fine to the bar.   It is known as a “bar fine.”

I have not been to Angeles city but I do want to go there.  Only so much you can learn about a place from listening to others.  to really learn, one must experience the places and the culture.

Because of the nature of tourist business in Angeles City, I would suspect crime would be a higher than many places in the Philippines.  However, crime that includes acts of violence are uncommon in the Philippines when you compare it to Memphis, Tn which is where I lived for about the last twenty years while in the USA.  I’ve personally have found no place in the Philippines that felt as dangerous as most places in Memphis!

Westerners can get themselves into trouble here because of the cultural changes.  One good way to end up dead here is to not pay a bar fine, regardless of what the girl did when she left with a bar patron.

Another way to get into trouble here is to hit a woman.  I must admit, I have less sympathy for men that do that and find themselves a part of vigilante justice.

Another way to get into trouble here is the language barrier.  I once tried to ask a girl if she was mad.  I had pulled out my trust English to Philippine translator and found the word “buang.”  Buang means mad as in mad-dog.  It means crazy!  it was a day or two before I discovered my mistake.  I had to get that corrected.  Another time I was at the North Bus Terminal in Cebu City.  A dispatcher asked me where I would be gong and I said bogo.   He looked at me strange and a little angry.  Then he laughed and said it is okay.  Bogo City, if pronounced the wrong way means stupid!  I had called the man stupid but he figured out what I was trying to say!

I doubt I would get killed for that kind of error but you can get deported.  Westerners are visitors in the Philippines and disrespecting a Filipino is grounds for deportation and blacklisted from ever entering the country again.

The killing of Mr. Melton does not sound like a robbery gone bad.  It sound like he offended someone.  I’ve read an article about how the family is hurting and is frustrated by the lack of information they are getting.  My heart goes out to the family and I hope this article is  helpful to them and not offensive.

The killing might have been motivated by a jealous boyfriend or husband.  Doesn’t even mean he approached a girl, it could be that she approached him!  The boyfriend or husband might have felt threatened by that.  Filipina are often quite attracted to white men because of our white skin and perceived wealth.

Mr. Melton may have done nothing wrong at all.   He may have been acting like an American and expressed his displeasure in some way to the wrong person.

The article is  a warning.   You are not in your home land, the culture is different.  I don’t think it is right to judge it in a negative way.  I’ve been here in a year and my understanding is very incomplete.  To judge, one needs to understand deeply. Filipino often become frustrated with the justice system here.  There is a perception that if one has money, the accused can buy their way out of most situations.  This may be a contributing factor to street justice.

Mr. Melton may not have offended anyone but he may have offended someone and never even knew it.   It could be a misunderstanding and it could even be miss-identification.

This is the direction I would go if I were seeking answers on this situation.  I would not rule out robbery but I’d say robbery is unlikely.  I hope the family can find the answers they need.  Mr. Melton reportedly  had never been out of the state of Tennessee and was very excited about his trip here.  Sadly the trip resulted in this tragic crime in Angeles City.

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Filed under: Crime In The Philippines

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