Still a long way to Senate inquiry
DESPITE eagerness to find justice for their loved ones, families of the victims of the recent spate of killings in Cebu might have to hold their horses just yet.
The Senate resolution calling for the legislative inquiry on the spate of killings in Cebu, which was sponsored by Sen. Grace Poe, has yet to be referred to the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs as the legislative body is still on break.
Poe filed Resolution No. 928 last Tuesday, October 30.
A Cebu Daily News source in Poe’s office said the resolution will still be moved for referral when the Senate resumes session next Monday, November 12.
“Once the resolution will be referred to the committee (on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs), it will already be up to the committee on when will they set the inquiry including the details on where it will be held and the personalities that will be asked to join,” Poe’s staff said.
The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs is chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
During her visit in Cebu last week, Poe vowed to prioritize the Senate inquiry as she said that the “almost daily” killing incidents in the province must be addressed immediately to assure safety and security of Cebuanos.
The legislative inquiry, according to the resolution, is aimed at reviewing pertinent laws regarding police operations and to disseminate information on people’s safety and security and for law enforcers to adopt measures towards accountability and transparency during their operations.
The call for the inquiry was based on news reports with the rising number of unsolved killings since February this year, including that of village officials, a local chief executive, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7) agents and four-year-old Bladen Skyler Abatayo, the boy who was killed by a stray bullet during an alleged botched police anti-drug operation in Bato, Barangay Ermita, Cebu City last July.
The families of some of the victims of unsolved murders see the senate inquiry as their only hope to attain justice for their loved ones, and for the perpetrators to be identified and prosecuted.
Ann Marie Blanco, daughter of slain Ronda town Mayor Mariano Blanco, said she would want to attend the Senate inquiry, saying it is a welcome development in their search for justice.
The family of PO3 Micahel Santino Cortes, on the other hand, have lost hope the police would ever find the culprits. Delia Cortes-Comedero, the slain cop’s older sister, believed her brother’s case would only be like the rest of the unsolved killings in the province.
Both the late mayor and Cortes were linked to illegal drugs, accusations that their respective families belied.
Poe said that even if the killings might be linked to drugs, not all the killings should be directly attributed to the war on drugs since some persons may have been using the campaign against drugs to serve their personal interests.
The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) has asked for the cooperation of the community in solving the cases of killings in the province.
Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, the director of PRO-7, admitted some cases of killing have not made significant progress because of the lack of witnesses and the lack of cooperation from the families of the victims and the community.
“The cooperation of the community and the family are really vital to our investigation. They will help us identify the motive or maybe the suspects,” Sinas said.
He added they would not want to settle with arresting fall guys just to say that they have resolved the cases.
On Saturday, another man died while three others were seriously injured in a shooting incident in Sitio Cambiohan, Barangay Casili in Consolacion.
The victims, Fernando Amor, 50; Gibson Cadampog, 35; Ador Bentulan, 36; and Martin Labrador, 49, were playing mahjong when gunshots were fired at them by a man on board a motorcycle.
Amor died before he reached the hospital while the other three remained confined at a public hospital in Mandaue City.
Chief Insp. Gerard Ace Pelare, Consolacion police chief, said they were yet to determine the motive of the killing but he believed that only one person was the target in the shooting incident. /WITH CORRESPONDENT BENJIE TALISIC
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