MRT ‘ATTACK’ Zhang Jiale after throwing a cup of “taho” at PO1 William Cristobal
For grace under fire from a Chinese woman armed with a cup of “taho,” PO1 William Cristobal received honors on Monday from the Philippine National Police commander.
PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde presented a commendation medal, the Medalya ng Papuri, to Cristobal at PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, praising the officer as “worthy of emulation.”
Cristobal kept his cool after being splattered with taho (sweetened bean curd drink) by 23-year-old Chinese student Jiale Zhang at the MRT Boni station in Mandaluyong City on Saturday.
Liquids have been prohibited at MRT and LRT stations since twin blasts at a Catholic church in Jolo, Sulu province, killed more than 20 people and wounded nearly 100 others on Jan. 27.
Encounter at the stiles
Cristobal stopped Zhang at the stiles when he saw that the young woman, who was studying fashion design in Manila, was carrying a cup of taho.
He told her to finish her taho first or throw it away and he would let her through.
Zhang threw the taho, not away but at Cristobal, who got it on his chest and right arm.
A commuter videoed the scene and the images went viral on the internet.
One picture showed Cristobal glowering at Zhang and gritting his teeth, but standing his ground like a good soldier.
Zhang was arrested and a raft of charges was thrown at her by the authorities, who also recommended her deportation for good measure.
No more train rides for her, too, as the MRT banned her from its premises for defying security measures.
Albayalde was all praise for Cristobal on Monday.
“His actions were very commendable. What he showed our countrymen was that our police officers are truly disciplined and patient, regardless of whether they are facing a local or a foreigner,” the PNP chief told reporters after the awarding ceremony for Cristobal.
“I think how he acted was worthy of emulation,” Albayalde added.
In a talk with reporters after the ceremony, Cristobal said he never thought of retaliatory action after getting splattered with taho.
“I just did what our PNP chief wanted us to do, which is to have a lot of patience and do what is right for our country,” said Cristobal, who has been on the force for 10 years.
Vice President Leni Robredo called the incident a “wake-up call” for the Duterte administration, which has chosen to be friendly to China despite the Chinese’s grabbing Philippine territory in the South China Sea.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, called the incident “a slap to us” and urged Filipinos to take a stand.
“As Filipinos, we should be united in saying that, ‘Hey, we may be a small country, a weak country, a poor country, but you cannot treat us like that, [you cannot] push us around,” Lacson said.
He said the PNP was right in seeking the declaration of Zhang as an undesirable alien.
Sen. Richard Gordon said China should tell its citizens to obey Philippine laws, as he called on Monday for the deportation of Zhang.
“The Chinese nationals here and all other foreign nationals staying in our country should respect our rules and laws. They should not flout our rules and they should also respect the officials who are implementing our laws,” Gordon said.
But Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. advised against blowing the incident out of proportions, recommending only the prosecution of Zhang.
Locsin tweeted on Monday that he needed to think about the Filipinos living in China.
“A little outburst of reactive xenophobia” could be detrimental to them, he said.
Waiting for developments
Malacañang also refused to see the taho-throwing incident as aggression and decided to wait for the results of the official action against Zhang.
“She’s facing deportation charges. What the President hates is when an oppressive act is committed and nothing happens. But in this situation I think he will just wait for the developments,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters on Monday.
Panelo described the incident as an “isolated case.” —With reports from Leila B. Salaverria and Julie M. Aurelio
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