Pangs of hunger*

SOCIAL media took pity on the plight of supermarket clerk Paul Matthew Tanglao after he was jailed for stealing a can of corned beef.

In his Facebook account, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David who is also vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), appealed for the 21-year-old’s freedom.

Tanglao was detained at the Manila Police District (MPD)-Santa Ana station for more than a week for qualified theft for stealing the canned food worth P31.50.

A report said Tanglao went to work on December 10 at Save More Santa Ana with only P10 in his pocket. When he could no longer control his hunger, Tanglao went to the supermarket warehouse and took a can of corned beef.

He was caught by the security guard for hiding the can in his apron. The supervisor of the supermarket asked the cashier to file a complaint against the clerk.

David even expressed his readiness to repay Tanglao’s employer a hundred times over if this meant the clerk would gain his freedom.

A lot of Facebook users posted their empathy for Tanglao, some of them pointing out the absurdity in the fact that this is a country where plunderers reportedly get acquitted while others even remain in their seats of power.

Bear in mind that the tax evasion case faced by Jeanne Napoles, daughter of the alleged “pork scam queen” and mastermind of the biggest corruption scandal involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of some members of Congress, was recently dismissed by the court.

Like many others who were touched by Tanglao’s experience, Firing Line would like to know why he had to spend more than a week in jail. Was this proportional to the crime committed — stealing a can of corned beef?

Some people commented that Tanglao should have just approached his supervisor and asked for food. But how could a man then being consumed by the pangs of hunger be expected to think properly?

The cop handling the case said that if it were up to him, he would not file a case and would just fire the clerk. The money spent on photocopying the documents needed for the case was allegedly more expensive than the price of the corned beef.

Some people said Henry Sy, owner of the supermarket and richest man in the country, should have more heart for his former employee this Christmas season.

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* The opinion of this author/s is/are his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

Robert Roque Jr.
Robert B. Roque Jr. is a veteran journalist who started out as a correspondent for Manila Bulletin's tabloid TEMPO in 1983. In 1989, At age 27, he rose to become the youngest associate editor of a newspaper of national circulation. In mid-2000, he took the helm of the paper as its editor until his voluntary retirement in 2012. He currently writes a syndicated column for TEMPO, Remate, and Hataw newspapers, and for this site, Beyond Deadlines. A former journalism lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2002, Roque is also an active member of the Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, having served as head of the Philippine Lions (council chairperson) in Lion Year 2011-2012.

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