Hitman’s confession

By: Editorial September 04,2017 - 11:00 PM

The arrest of two barangay officials in Danao City and Borbon town, as well as the arrest of a Tuburan town councilor’s son in the past few days, casts the spotlight anew on President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to postpone the barangay elections in order to weed out the drug trafficking menace in the grassroots level.

At the same time, the arrest of Barangay Lugo Chairman and self-confessed hired gun Jinnefer Mercader of Borbon town who claimed to have killed several people with drug ties on the orders of some elected officials in Cebu highlights the highly questionable and illegal methods of eradicating the drug menace in the province.

Of the three arrests made by police over the weekend, Mercader’s arrest was the more dramatic and unexpected as he opened a can of worms, so to speak, on how some elected officials dealt with criminals in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

While Mercader insisted that he is a “hero” for killing people who supposedly peddled drugs and killed the loved ones of those who contacted him for help in dealing swift justice to them, there was no small irony over his arrest on charges that he is also a drug dealer.

The “can of worms” came when the Cebu provincial police told reporters that Mercader confessed to them that he was contracted by politicians to kill criminal elements, rather than his vague admission that he was hired by private persons for the hits.

As to whether Mercader was hired to kill criminal elements in Cebu City in the mid-2000s when there were domestic and international criticisms on the “vigilante killings” in the Queen City of the South as well as the identity/identities of these politicians, only a more in-depth investigation could ferret out.

What is definite is that Mercader’s claim was all that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) needed to announce plans to reinvestigate the killings, provided of course the families of these victims come forward and file a complaint in their office.

But after all this time and with a sitting president who actively promotes the killing of drug suspects who resist arrest, will those families find the courage, or even the motivation, to pursue their cases at the CHR which continues to be despised and rendered mostly inutile by the administration?

True, the Danao City barangay councilwoman included in President Duterte’s drug watch list may have shown how police can handle drug suspects without firing their guns.

But Mercader’s hitman confession overshadows the domestic war on illegal drugs by unearthing skeletons of brutal execution-style killings that were buried over a decade ago.

We’re not too confident about the prospects of success in CHR’s reopening of the investigation into the killings, but Mercader’s admission is a clear reminder of how officials are willing to go out of bounds in dealing with criminal suspects.

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TAGS: arrest, barangay, Borbon, confession, Hitman’s, trafficking, Tuburan

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