Everybody acknowledges what tanods contribute to keep us safe, particularly at night. The killing of an alleged burglar in the hands of tanods is an isolated case. Such incident is a reminder and a challenge also to the PNP to strictly implement the law on firearms and ammunitions.
Last Sunday, alleged burglar Lendon Abadenas, 36, was arrested by the tanods of Barangay Ermita, Cebu City. He was detained at the barangay hall. Past midnight on Tuesday, he was reportedly escorted by at least three tanods out of the barangay detention cell to the Carbon Police Precinct.
Unfortunately, there was no proper turnover that happened between the tanods and the police because Abadenas arrived at the police precinct alone and in critical condition with gunshot wounds in his chest. He fell down in front of the police precinct with his mouth gagged with a tape and his hands handcuffed.
The on-duty policemen of the Carbon Police Precinct immediately brought him to the hospital. Before that, when the tape taped on the victim’s mouth was removed, Abadenas was able to tell the police that he was shot by a barangay tanod. He was declared by the doctors as dead on arrival.
So far, there are two tanods who voluntarily surrendered and are now under the custody of the police. They are identified as Jerome Miral and Junniel Sanchez.
During my live on-air interview at my “Straight to the Point” radio program of dyHP RMN Cebu, the two tanods partially admitted to the crime. On the part of tanod Miral, he admitted that he was the one who arrested Abadenas but denied any involvement in the killing because he allegedly went home already when the incident happened.
Sanchez for his part, admitted as the one who shot Abadenas but denied that he did it intently. He explained that he shot Abadenas out of self-defense as the latter allegedly tried to grab his .45 caliber pistol that was tucked in his waist.
In the course of my interview, I asked questions that would test their credibility. I observed that the two were evasive in answering squarely my simple questions. They even asked to cut short the interview despite being told to grab the airtime opportunity to explain their side.
Aside from my personal observations, plus the available evidence gathered by the police, including the dying declaration of Abadenas, which is acknowledged under the Rules on Evidence, the following questions scream loud for answers: Why did the tanods not turn over the arrested person to the police immediately after the arrest? Is it not a fact that the police station is only a walking distance from the barangay hall?
How true is the report that they intently not to turn over an arrested person to the police because they make negotiations first in exchange of money?
How true that only when the negotiation fails would they turn over a detainee to the police?
What was really the intention of getting the detainee at midnight? Was it for purposes of turning him over to the police? Or did they have other plans of bringing him to an uninhabited place? Why did the tanod bring with him an unlicensed firearm? How come that a handcuffed detainee allegedly tried to grab the firearm of the tanod as claimed by the latter?
Under the law, tanods are not allowed to carry guns. If there is necessity for a tanod to carry a gun, then he has to apply for the proper permits in accordance with the law. He has to undergo the process of subjecting himself in a drug test, gun safety seminar, neurological examinations and submit the required documents.
For now, the police is reportedly preparing a murder case against the tanods. I hope that this incident could give a lesson to all tanods to be the first to follow the law and observe the limits of their functions as tanods.
This is a challenge on the part of the police to confiscate loose firearms so that criminals could not use them in committing crimes. The strict requirements under the law for good citizens to obtain license before they can own and carry guns will lose its logic if criminals can easily continue to bring their unregistered guns.