WHAT will change Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s decision to give P50,000 as legal assistance to policemen who neutralize criminals in the line of duty?
Certainly not the growing opposition and statements of concern from different stakeholders like the Catholic Church, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), human rights advocates, and other city officials like Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella.
“If all criminals die tomorrow, I’ll stop giving,” this was his answer.
In an ambush interview yesterday at the ceremonial awarding of contract to the winning contractor of the Cebu–Cordova Link Expressway project, the mayor defended his plan by saying that what he is trying to give to policemen is “peace of mind,” especially because they are automatically investigated if a suspect is killed during a police operation.
The suggestion of opposition Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia was for the city to create a legal team that would assist policemen, instead of releasing money every time they are able to kill a criminal.
Garcia, a lawyer, added that creating a legal team would be cheaper compared to hiring individual lawyers for each policeman.
“It’s none of his business. Team Rama has never done anything for the policemen. They’re just trying to pretend they’re going to do something,” Osmeña said when sought for comment on the suggestion of Garcia.
“I’ve been getting a lot of bad publicity. I don’t care. I care about the Cebuanos more. I can’t help it. I don’t have sympathy for criminals. If they’re dead, good. I don’t care. But I’m going to follow the law. But I just don’t care for them,” the mayor added.
It was last week when the mayor announced his plan to give a P50,000 legal assistance to policemen who are able to neutralize criminals.
He said the money for this will be taken from the city’s discretionary fund under the mayor’s office which has a P7.8- million fund for next year.
At the same time, he said he could also use his own money for the assistance.
“When I say P50,000, it’s automatic. If he needs a lawyer, we’ll get him a lawyer, depending on the gravity of the situation. But I’m just giving them peace of mind,” the mayor said.