Inviting controversy

By: Editorial May 31,2016 - 10:34 PM

Cartoon for_1JUNE2016_WEDNESDAY_renelevera_INSTILLING FEAR

In a TV interview, incoming Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña clarified that he’s not engaged in a campaign to kill criminal suspects.

“I am not interested in killing them,” he told ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol Central Visayas, elaborating that his P50,000 cash reward for policemen successful in killing criminal suspects was all about intimidation, of instilling fear among the criminals so they won’t create trouble for Cebu City.

But as pointed out in a previous editorial, the cash reward for all intents and purposes may goad police to hunt down and resort to killing suspects first rather than following the traditional process of arresting and allowing them to languish in jail while they wait for their day in court.

Apparently that same sentiment is expressed by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) which is also bound to deal with the same extrajudicial stance to be expanded by incoming President Rodrigo Duterte, who vowed to eradicate criminality in three to six months.

In fact, Regional CHR Director Arvin Ordon said it could even encourage barangay officials and civilians to also engage or aid in extrajudicial killings. The agency may study all it wants to know on how this would impact law enforcement, but this early the signs point to a proactive police on the hunt for criminal elements especially drug lords whom Osmeña wanted to wipe out.

The police operation that resulted in a shootout that killed suspected drug trafficker Rowen “Yawa” Torrefiel Secretaria of Cebu City and two of his alleged cohorts in Banacon Island in Bohol province may be an offshoot of that renewed intensified anti-drug operations though it was done by Cebu based agencies and not Cebu City police.

Then again, that operation comes on the heels of Duterte’s warning that he will prosecute law enforcers caught conspiring with drug traffickers and his standing order for them to undergo random, unannounced drug tests that he wants to personally supervise.

But we digress. Since Osmeña has yet to assume office, his cash reward system is subject to both public debate and scrutiny. The incoming mayor has qualified his system, saying the killings have to be justified and be within the course of lawful pursuit—at least we hope he means that.

As far as civilians go, Osmeña may want to limit the cash reward to providing information rather than actual killing.

But he still has to explain even if he tells anyone who dares ask him that it’s none of his or her business where the money for the cash rewards are sourced from.

There are both legal and moral questions to be asked about this cash reward system. While intensified operations against criminality especially the drug menace is welcome, it should be tempered and not allowed to run loose lest this escalates the violence and endangers the populace.

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TAGS: ABS-CBN, Cebu, Cebu City, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, controversy, Visayas

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