We didn’t ask Canada mayor to resign; Remulla will stay

By Alex P. Vidal

“Journalist: a person without any ideas but with an ability to express them; a writer whose skill is improved by a deadline: the more time he has, the worse he writes.”—Karl Kraus

I WAS working as part time journalist in Vancouver, Canada when the scandal involving the foster son of then Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson hit the headlines in December 2011.

The foster son, Jinagh Farrouch Navas-Rivas, 21, was one of five men charged in connection with alleged cocaine trafficking and weapons charges.

But he remained at large together with three others. Only one of the five was in police custody.

I noticed that the press treated the well-mannered Robertson with kid gloves.

First, nobody had asked him to resign unlike what happened to Philippine Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, whose eldest son, Juanito Jose Diaz Remulla III, 38, was allegedly caught receiving a parcel that contained over a million pesos worth of marijuana.

Second, nobody had speculated he was coddling the spoiled brat.

Robertson, a very popular politician even in the Filipino-Canadian community, was enjoying a free ride from media pillory.


I was editor of a community newspaper based in Surrey, but the publisher wouldn’t dare print anything negative against a “friendly mayor.”

I realized journalism in the Philippines and Canada—in terms of adversarial stance and dust-up vis-à-vis the subjects of news—is oceans apart.

To some gutless journalists, the mayor’s charisma was simply irresistible, enough to exempt him from media criticism.

In the vacuum of critical press, I told myself “I have an important job to do.”

Every Thursday morning (I was a working journalist from Thursday to Sunday and salesman of instant coffee from Monday to Wednesday), I chose as my “hideout” a faraway coffeeshop in Richmond, a city in British Columbia, to write my story about Robertson’s son and why it was “difficult” for authorities to locate him when he was a well-known character.

Can a suspected felon or criminal dodge Canada’s sophisticated radar?

I felt comfortable and safe in the City of Richmond, known for its Asian influences and is home to the International Buddhist Temple, an elaborate complex resembling Beijing’s Forbidden City.

There, I wrote some of my critical stories about the foster son who became a thorn in Robertson’s family.

Canada papers, as expected, didn’t publish them for reasons I elaborated earlier.

Never mind. I have two blogs; and some news websites and newspapers in California, Illinois, Nevada and Texas in the United States regularly lifted and used my stories from the Philippine News Service (PNS).

I did my job and saw to it my stories were objective and fair; there was no harm whatsoever on the part of Robertson, who never had any hostile reaction to my critical stories.

I needed to tell my readers what’s going on and how the case against the mayor’s son was treated by authorities—even if it meant a voice in the wilderness.


Before New Year 2012 or in the last week of December 2021, Robertson finally urged his former foster son to give himself up to police after a warrant was issued for the 21-year-old’s arrest on cocaine trafficking and weapons charges.

“I am disappointed to hear that Jinagh is wanted by the Richmond RCMP and I urge him to turn himself in to the police immediately,” Robertson said.

Navas-Rivas lived with Robertson and his wife Amy between 2007 and 2009. The couple has three other children.

“My wife and I foster parented Jinagh for two years until 2009. We have always believed that providing support to youth in need is of great importance and that fostering is an important contribution our family can make.

“It was in this spirit that we took in Jinagh to live with us. He has been on his own now since June 2009.”

Robertson was vacationing with his family in Hawaii when the hullaballoo erupted.

The charges alleged Navas-Rivas, along with four other men, trafficked cocaine in Richmond and Vancouver and illegally transferred a .22-calibre pistol in New Westminster.

The case of the Remullas is different. First, it happened in the age of social media; thus, the first wave of condemnation came from the unforgiving netizens who called for the father Remulla’s resignation for delicadeza. It didn’t happen. It will not happen.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local papers in Iloilo.—Ed)