27 Mar 2010

A baseless argument

There is a ‘war’ brewing in the media over the PM’s crass and unmannerly trespass upon the property of a pensioner, compounded by his use of ‘PNM machinery’ and Parliamentary privilege to investigate said pensioner.

Present below are 4 letters to the Editor of the Express, 2 appreciating Mr Villafana’s action, and 2 criticising him for being ‘disrespectful’.

Personally, I feel those who seek to defend P**rick are baseless in both argument and thought. But I will let readers decide for themselves.

Percy Villafana’s response to Prime Minister Patrick Manning has  propelled him to Facebook stardom. And some are hailing him as a hero.

But I beg to differ on the current wave of support that Mr Villafana is  enjoying for his brazen response to the Prime Minister’s visit to his  home while the PM was on his walkabout. Mr Villafana may have a  legitimate reason for expressing his displeasure to the PM and that is  his right as a citizen. Political leaders, candidates, and activists  usually engage in meet-the-people walkabouts and this is done at great  risk to themselves and their entourage. The Prime Minister is fortunate  to have with him a robust security detail and can be protected against any sudden attack on his person.

But what about those who are not in Government, and who may not enjoy the security of the protective forces? What about the Leader of the  Opposition and leaders of other political movements? How would they handle a far more brazen and violent activist if approached and threatened and/or intimidated? What if our leaders are physically assaulted and some form of injury inflicted upon them?The point I am making is simple. No citizen should be encouraged to  disrespect and dishonour our leaders regardless of their opinion of them, regardless of which political party they represent. We cannot  sanction and honour this form of conduct against our leaders.

While I appreciate Mr Villafana’s bold expression of his political  views, I am of the opinion that his reaction to the Prime Minister’s  presence at his home was extreme. Even more disturbing is the careless reaction from numerous individuals from political circles, Facebook, and letters to the Editor.

We must hope that our citizens express  themselves in a way that maintains our civility as a free people and as a country founded on the principles of freedom and justice. This is not  the kind of behaviour that should be politicised and/or glamourised.

Selwyn Samaroo

University of Tennessee

I wish to fully endorse the comments of Lennox Sankersingh in the Express of March 24. At last someone else in this country is thinking like me!

When such behaviour is displayed by elders in our society what can we expect of our young people? The same people who are applauding Percy Villafana’s behaviour are the ones who condemn the disrespect shown to elders by the young people in our society.

Trinidadians, please wake up. Our country is going downhill daily and it is not only because of the policies of successive governments, it is our attitude.

Very concerned citizen

Port of Spain

The incident reported in the media on Tuesday regarding Prime Minister Patrick Manning, his security detail and an 81 year old pensioner has raised some serious issues regarding the protection of citizen’s rights and property, and their insulation from the political directorate. The gentleman made it quite clear to Mr. Manning that he did not want him on his property, he was quoted as telling Mr. Manning ‘You’re not welcomed here I want nothing to do with you’. Mr. Manning then proceeds to ignore the admonition of the property owner and decides to ‘brush’ pass him onto his property which then caused the gentleman to take hold of Mr. Manning by the shoulders telling him “You didn’t hear what I say? You’re not welcome here!”

At this point Mr. Manning’s security detail sprung into action to separate the two and proceeded to tell the owner of the property “You cannot do that, you cannot touch the Prime Minister!”, to which the pensioner appropriately responded “You have to be mad this is my house!” When I read this news article and saw the clipping on the evening news, chills ran down my spine and it should have the same effect on you. If this incident isn’t a clear example and more proof that our politicians are clearly out of control then I do not know what is. What right does the Prime Minister have to trespass on the private property of citizens of this country? Is Patrick Manning above the law? When a Prime Minister acts with such scant regard for the laws of the land is it any wonder that the police officers of this country also feel they have the right to enter people’s property unannounced and without the express authority of the owners or necessary court sanctioned warrants?

Can this pensioner, I or any other citizen of this country simply enter Mr. Manning’s Diplomatic centre at whim, even if security personnel tell us we can’t enter? What was even more surprising is that one of Mr. Manning’s security detail reportedly admonished the pensioner telling him ‘You lucky, you cannot touch the Prime Minister….no matter what you are not supposed to touch the Prime Minister” , at which point the pensioner again declared in astonishment “You must be mad this is my house!” Rightly so, the only explanation that could be given for Mr. Manning and his security detail is that they are in fact mad. What does the security detail mean no matter what you are not supposed to touch the Prime Minister? Ironically the same security detail did not admonish any other individuals who chose to ‘touch’ the Prime Minister by shaking his hand. It reminds me of a couple years ago I had to face a visibly upset member of Mr. Manning’s detail glowering at me because I refused to wind my glass down to shake the Prime Minister’s hand while stuck in traffic.

According to the laws of the land if someone trespasses and invades your home aren’t you permitted within the law to defend yourself and property? I saw the clipping on the evening news; Mr. Manning virtually brushed aside the gentleman on his own property! Do citizens not have the right to defend themselves and their property in this country anymore? Since when because a person is Prime Minister they can enter the private homes of citizens at whim, whenever they feel like without the property owner’s permission? The security detail then proceeded to stay on the pensioner’s property after Mr. Manning left further compounding the illegal trespassing of private property of a citizen of our democratic Republic. Perhaps Mr. Philbert or whomsoever is in charge of the Prime Minister’s detail should have some legal workshops with the PM’s security detail so they won’t come across as being so totally ignorant to the laws of our land.

For instance the pensioner explicitly told the Prime Minister to not enter his premises, the Prime Minister in his usual arrogant manner ignored the gentleman and proceeded to break the laws of our Democratic Republic by entering the man’s property. Not only was this illegal it was also unnecessary harassment and provocation of a citizen of our country, it was an abuse and invasion of the pensioner’s private property and the pensioner therefore had every right to seek to remove Mr. Manning and defend his property even if it means removing Mr. Manning physically. The person whom the security detail should have admonished was Mr. Manning, he should have pulled the PM aside and politely advise him that even though he is the Prime Minister, he is still subject to the laws and bound by the constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and therefore it would be an illegal act to enter this pensioner’s property as he has so explicitly indicated he does not want you on his property.

If the Prime Minister can brazenly disregard the citizens of this country and enter our homes whenever he feels like then something is terribly wrong in our country. Fellow citizens, do not take this incident lightly, pay close attention to the actions of our politicians. Something terribly ugly has happened to our political system, we now live in a country where our public servants act as Kings and Lords over us believing they can say whatever they want to us, not account to us for their actions and now enter the sanctity of our homes without our permission. I would really appreciate if Mr. Maharaj, Garvin Nicholas, Gillian Lucky or some other legal luminary within our country pay this pensioner a visit pro bono and see what legal course he can take considering the Prime Minister and his security detail’s illegal trespassing on his property as well as being unnecessarily threatened and harassed by the Prime Minister’s security detail because he sought to defend his home. I’m calling on my fellow citizens, wake up! Arise from your slumber! Our democratic rights and freedoms are under severe attack, we are losing this country everyday to the arrogance of our politicians and pretty soon one day we will get up one morning and realize we are prisoners in our own country.

"Oke Zachary"



Some commentators have been saying that Percy Villafana is “rude” and “disrespectful” and should be condemned as such for blocking the Prime Minister from entering his yard and then trying to physically throw him out.

I couldn’t agree more!

Percy Villafana reminds me of that rude lady, Rosa Parks, who just didn’t know her place and sat in a seat reserved for white folk and refused to give it up for a white man, as would have been the proper thing to do. After she was arrested, the rudeness just snowballed!

Dr Martin Luther King then took the rudeness further by being disrespectful to the State and Federal Governments!Dr King used the “passive resistance” rudeness he learned from Mahatma Ghandi, that rude Indian who disrespected the British Monarch!Nelson Mandela in South Africa also used “passive resistance” to be rude to his apartheid leaders!

Think about how much better the world would have been had these rude people known their place and just accepted the hand that life had dealt them!

Kurt Seucharan-Fuentes