LABELLA BACKS TOM’S BOUNTY FOR NINJA COPS

By: Jessa Mae O. Sotto, Nestle L. Semilla, Rosalie O. Abatayo August 19,2018 - 10:03 PM

CHR lashes out at the offer, saying human lives are priceless, including that of the rogue police officers

In a rare occasion, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella have agreed on a point: to reward those who would gun down rogue cops.

In an interview on Sunday, Labella expressed his support to Osmeña’s move to add P50,000 to the P5 million bounty offered by President Duterte for
anyone who can kill scalawags in the police force, whom he has labeled as “ninja cops.”

“I agree with both of the pronouncements of the president and with that of the mayor. But of course, it should be ascertained first that these are really guilty people,” said Labella.

Labella, a lawyer by profession, said that while the authorities are supposed to uphold the rule of law, the bounty might be timely due to the degree of drug infestation and problems on criminality and the involvement of some policemen in these.

“Although we should be upholding the rule of law, [I agree] considering the magnitude of the problems now,” Labella added.

Last Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte decided to increase his reward for bringing in dead “ninja cops” from P3 million to P5 million.

In a speech during the Hugpong ng Pagbabago convention in Davao City on Friday, the President warned erring cops of “terrible consequences” if they do not turn away from their illegal practices, saying that he was unsatisfied with the status of the hunt for policemen involved in the narcotics trade.

The mayor first expressed his support to the P5 million bounty for each ninja cop offered by the President on Saturday as he pledged an additional P50,000 for every rogue police officer slain in Cebu.

Osmeña said the money will come from his own pocket so he will not need the approval of the city council.

But unlike Labella, opposition Councilor Joel Garganera slammed Osmeña’s offer of additional P50,000 reward and called it a desperate action to be the President’s copycat.

“The mayor is very OA (over acting) and trying hard to be the President’s second-grade copycat,” Garganera said.

Garganera also questioned the mayor for his terms of reference in considering rogue cops.

“The two (Mr. Duterte and Osmeña) have different references in calling one cop rogue. Tommy (Osmeña) considers Calumba and Balili as rogue while the Philippine National Police (PNP) and President Duterte even accord them with full police honors in their funerals,” said Garganera.

“By the same token, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the PNP considered the late (SP01 Adonis) Dumpit as a rogue cop. Are we made to believe that he will offer P50,000 to those responsible for the demise of Dumpit?” he added.

Other mayors, too

Aside from Osmeña, some mayors in the province also backed the bounty offer of the President to end the involvement of policemen in criminal activities, particularly in the illegal drug trade.

Moalboal Mayor Inocentes Cabaron said the bounty is timely.

“Agree aron mahunong na mga ninja (I agree to put a stop to those ninja [policemen]) ,” Cabaron said in a text message.

Tabogon Mayor Zigfred Duterte also backed the President’s offer to reward those who could kill erring policemen.

“(There are) no more alternatives because rogue policemen are under (the) direct control (of the) PNP (Philippine National Police) and not by LGU (local government unit),” the mayor said.

However, Mayor Mariano Martinez of San Remigio expressed concern that the scheme will only encourage more killings.

“I believe in upholding the rule of law and following the legal process, and letting our justice system prevail,” Martinez said.

No to bounty

Garganera, who sits as chairman of the city’s Police Advisory Council (PAC), also said there should be no reward system in the effort to cleanse the PNP of rotten eggs.

“To me, cleansing the ranks of the PNP needs not to be rewarded. It should be the primary duty of the PNP to police their own ranks and get rid of scalawags that taint the image of the police,” Garganera said.

Officials of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) have begged off from issuing further statements pertaining to the bounty.

PRO-7 spokesperson Supt. Reyman Tolentin said that they were implementing their internal cleansing process with the help of the Counter Intelligence Task Force (CITF), regardless if there is a bounty or not.

The Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR-7) has also expressed concern over the pronouncement of the public officials to reward killers of rogue cops, fearing that it would promote more violence.

“Our regional office is contemplating of seeking the opinion of our legal department in the central office. Considering that this matter is of national interest, we will submit to whatever policy the Commission en banc will issue on this matter,” CHR-7 Director Arvin Odron said.

The CHR Central Office has, however, made clear its position against the bounty, as it reiterated that human lives are priceless, including that of the police scalawags.

“Ninja cops or scalawags in the police force, the Commission agrees, are a disgrace to the institution and, therefore, must be removed from the service. However, like any human being, their lives are priceless, too,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.

De Guia stressed that there shouldn’t be any price tag on human life and the removal of erring cops’ from service “must not be by death, which promotes vigilantism and perpetuates the cycle of violence.”

“Affording them due process and (honoring) their constitutional rights is by no means tolerance of their wrongdoings or acquiescence thereto but rather adhering to time honored principles of respect for human rights and the rule of law,” she said. /WITH INQUIRER.NET

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