Gloria’s Fantasyland

Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in June 17, 2009 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.

In the news last month was the opening of a multi-billion peso amusement park in Dapitan City , Zamboanga del Norte. Called “Gloria’s Fantasyland,” the amusement park promises children fun and excitement with the choco-cup ride, the midi-flume ride, the carousel, the swinger, the Apollo, the mini-train, a giant roller coaster, a horror house, and interactive rides like Happy Journey, Fight Shark, World of War, and Telecombat.

“Gloria’s Fantasyland” is owned by Romeo G. Jalosjos, a former congressman convicted of two counts of statutory rape and six counts of acts of lasciviousness against an 11-year-old girl.

I know… my steaming-hot morning coffee went shooting out of my nose, too.

A month before his “Disneyland in the Philippines” was opened to the public, Jalosjos told the press, “This is our way of letting less fortunate children enjoy the different rides which they have not experienced before.”

I know…I, too, had visions of Uncle Romy’s 11-year-old victim experiencing different rides she had not experienced before.

Jalosjos admitted to acts of lasciviousness, but he vehemently denies he ever raped the child.

“The victim, according to the mother, was almost 13 years old or rather more than 13 years old,” he said.

Under RA 8353, the “Anti-Rape Law of 1997,” statutory rape applies only when the victim is less than 13 years old.

Okay, so she was 13 and he was 56 at the time.  Did they hang out with her friends or his?

I know…age does not matter where lust is concerned.

Jalosjos never apologized to his victim directly. He believed his personal transformation was proof enough of his remorse: Hindi na kailangan ang word na ‘tawad’ ay marinig. (Ang) importante yung transformation na nakikita niya dahil sa pagsisisi. (There’s no need to hear the word “sorry”. What’s important is that she sees my transformation because of remorse.)

Two years ago, I wrote, “Maybe the aging pedophile will finally express remorse by turning his Dakak Island resort into Uncle Romeo’s Enchanted Island Orphanage for Girls.”

It seems my quip was not too far off the mark. Jalosjos did build something for children.

I know… Jalosjos is making children happy instead of making happy with children.

I’m seriously thinking about bringing my nieces to Gloria’s Fantasyland. The only thing stopping me from doing it is the AH1N1 virus.

I know…you, too, are worried about taking your kids to crowded places.

Gloria Arroyo graced the opening of the theme park. Some sectors did not approve of it. One columnist commented, “In other countries, heads of state are never to be seen with ex-convicts, much more a child rapist.”

I don’t know about that…

Jalosjos was convicted of raping one child. Arroyo is accused of raping 80 million people. Shouldn’t he be the one concerned about being seen with her?

But kidding aside, Gloria Arroyo obviously has a soft spot for monsters. She pardoned Claudio Teehankee Jr., a man who shot and killed two teens in cold blood; she pardoned the soldiers who assassinated Ninoy Aquino; she hailed Gen. Jovito Palparan as a hero despite the mountain of human rights abuse allegations against him, and she pardoned Romeo Jalosjos.

Gloria Arroyo did all of the above without consulting the families of their victims and, in the case of Jalosjos, the victim herself.

The woman Jalosjos raped sent Gloria Arroyo a letter that spoke directly to her disdain for victims.

“What is the government doing to protect victims?

“He (Jalosjos) did not listen to my cry. He ignored my tears. He raped and abused me repeatedly. He was about to buy me to be his live-in sex slave if I had not escaped. I was only 11.

“Please extend your compassion not to your political ally but to an innocent victim. Please do not condone his crime. I appeal to you. I deserve my justice. Please do not take it away from me.”

I know…

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