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MANILA, Philippines – At first glance, Jamie Garcia seems like an unlikely target of bullies.
He towers at more than 6 feet tall and has a rather gentle, apologetic, demeanor. But Jamie has been bullied and mocked at the Colegio San Agustin (CSA) School in Makati where he is on his senior year in high school.
His butt and genitals were often poked by one of his male classmates, his main tormentor. Then on August 30, after months of constant taunts and harassment, Jamie had enough. He stabbed one of the bullies with a ballpen and punched another. The incident escalated when the father of the classmate he punched rushed to his school, slapped and threatened him with what he recalled was a .45-caliber gun.
“I really thought he’d shoot my brains out,” Jamie told InterAksyon before granting his first full interview on TV5’s morning show, ‘Good Morning Club.’
Jamie’s father, Mike, was oblivious to the bullying until he was called that day to his son’s school. “Wala siyang sinasabi sa amin, eh,” he said.
But after months of being bullied and keeping quiet about it, Jamie has decided to come out, while his family is preparing legal action against the gun-toting father, while posing a lot of questions to the school.
‘ I can’t take it anymore’
During their English class at around 10 am of August 30, Jamie said one of his classmates, ‘JD,’ who had been constantly taunting him since July, began making certain “references” aimed at him.
“I can’t take it anymore,” Jaime said. “They think it’s funny.”
After telling JD to stop it, another classmate, yelled back at him.
At this point, Jamie got angrier. He took a ballpen and stabbed JD with it. When his other classmate interceded, he punched him in the face.
“He started clenching his jaw,” Jamie recalled. “Then he told me, ‘I’ll kill you. I’ll shoot you!’”
It was then that Jamie was taken to the Head Teacher’s office by their English teacher Ms. Billy Joy Creus. Jamie wrote an incident report, while waiting for a guidance counselor top talk to him.
He was waiting inside the room with one of the admin staff and three other faculty members, when Allan Canete Bantiles, the father of the boy he punched, barged into the room.
“He asked me if I was the guy who hit his son. I apologized. In thought he was a reasonable guy,” Jamie said.
“He slapped me. He told me never to do that again. He told me, ‘You’re crazy. You deserve to be in a mental institution.’ I still apologized.”
According to Jamie, Bantiles wasn’t content and grabbed him, while saying : ‘You want to fight? You want to go outside now?’
Bantiles’ driver and son were in the room when the situation escalated. The fuming Bantiles asked for his “green denim satchel’, Jamie recalled, and brought out a gun.
“He then said:’ I can shoot you right now! You want me to shoot you?’” Jamie said.
By this time, one of Jamie’s male teachers was already holding Bantiles back while another told the shocked boy to proceed to the guidance office.
“I was just there, I wasn’t moving,” he said.
Jamie’s father found out of the incident while at work. “ I didn’t know my son had been bullied,” Mike told InterAksyon.
After finding out what happened to his son, Mike then asked the school officials how the gun was sneaked into the premises. He also asked why they just allowed Bantiles to leave scot-free.
“May kakulangan sila,” he said.
CSA officials then ordered Bantiles never to set foot on their campus again, while Mike moved to have the gun-toting dad’s car pass cancelled.
Mike then learned that his son was suspended for five days [for the ballpen-stabbing], while the two students were transferred to a different section. The CSA Makati Alumni Association (CSAMAA), filed a case report of the incident with the Department of Education and reported about the increased security on campus and the banning of Bantiles “indefinitely.”
CSAMAA president Martin Jose Cervantes also posted on the organization’s official Facebook account several suggestions on how to resolve the matter. This includes creating an Anti-Bullying Committee, filing a case against Bantiles and conducting a clear dialogue with the school, parents and alumni.
“If you feel that the school can't act on its own, let's VOLUNTEER for them to carry this case on, but this of course will still be really based on the fact if they accept this particular offer of ours,” Cervantes wrote.
But Mike felt this is not enough. Just last Thursday, Jamie said, Bantiles’ son yelled at him and asked: ‘What did you tell your family? I’ll see you in court!”
Mike said the reason they came to the media is because they felt the CSA fell short in its response to the incident. For now, Jaime’s father is taking comfort in the fact that social media has been harsher on Bantiles.
Last Friday, a Facebook page was created denouncing Bantiles’ action. It has so far gathered more than 650 likes and is already sharing details and news articles surrounding the August 20 incident.
Ironically, the Facebook page has become an avenue for users to vent out their anger at Bantiles (even post his home address online) and in a way, cyberbully the gun-toting father.
“Thats crap! CSA is a joke. Allan needs to have his punk ass in jail. Then lets see how tough that punk is...” One Peter Brooks commented.
“Pumatol sa bata....wanna try someone your own size, Allan Bantiles?” Joel Canlas added.
But for now, Jamie said he just wants to focus on his studies and move on from the incident.
“At the moment, I’m just trying to move on. I’m just saying the truth.”
InterAksyon and Good Morning Club tried to get the side of Bantiles but received no response.