The Cinderella curse

Perhaps it was the choice of song.

After all, if there is one song that could potentially set back the anti-violence crusade by at least 50 years, it would be Bato sa Buhangin. Don’t ask me why. Some songs are just like that.

Invariably, they start off with a major 7th chord, the chord of choice being C major 7th. Then, almost imperceptibly, they shift to a minor 7th — E major 7th, for instance. Then here’s the catch: an unexpected diminished chord, such as an E flat diminished, follows.

And here, you might as well kiss your pending criminal investigation, and the whole criminal justice system upon which society is founded, goodbye.

Or, as a veteran prosecutor I interviewed, and who asked not to be named, suggested: “There is something about Cinderella, and that whole 70’s Philippine pop love song genre that is inimical to the orderly administration of justice.”

Dalawampu and Tajanlangit should have seen that sinister chord progression coming. Salatandre, the defense lawyer, very well knew that nothing muddles a criminal investigation like Bato sa Buhangin. They could have objected soon after “Kapag ang puso’y natutong magmahal…” and well before that harmful refrain.

Department of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, while downplaying the incident, conceded: “But it appears there was fraternizing between the defense and the prosecution. We are looking into that.”

What Gonzalez will never say is that there are disturbing reports that somewhere deep in Mindanao, another criminal investigation was effectively sabotaged after lawyers for the defense successfully lured prosecutors into joining them in singing another 70’s Cinderella hit, T.L. Ako Sa ‘Yo.

The problem, it would appear, is bigger than everybody thinks. Anti-violence crusaders and disturbed radio commentators should not lower their guard against this musical menace that threatens the very integrity of law and order.

God forbid Cinderella’s Ang Boypren Kong Baduy should find its revival in another prosecutor’s office in another town or city in this country. That would truly be disastrous, because heinous crimes are especially vulnerable to heinous songs.

We need proactive measures. If singing in the course of an investigation cannot be stopped, then Gonzalez should at least come up with a play list of DOJ-certified songs. Songs that have been tested in simulated criminal investigations and found safe for use in sing-along sessions between prosecutors and defense lawyers.

This task is admittedly formidable, but should not meet difficulty in enlisting the participation of lawyers, anti-violence crusaders, radio commentators and concerned columnists like me. The problem, after all, is urgent. And it is not everyday that one is given a reason to grab the mike and sing.

As for Favila, the suspect, I’ve reviewed the tapes and listened closely to his performance in this sing-along. I leave his legal defense to his lawyer. But musically, I believe he should have invoked his right to remain silent.

SunStar Cebu
28 October 2004

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