TOMMY O UPS THE ANTE
“I am here to defend you.”
Cebu City Mayor-elect Tomas Osmeña yesterday gave this assurance to members of the Philippine National Police as the fight against illegal drugs heated up and with policemen facing investigation from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) over allegations of violation of the rules of engagements and charges of summary killings raised against them.
Osmeña yesterday handed P155,000 cash to Senior Insp. Henrix Bancoleta of the Central Visayas Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (RAIDSOT-7) who led the operation that killed Rowen “Yawa” Secretaria, the third most wanted drug personality in the region, and his two cohorts, John Jason Montes and Dario Torremocha, on Banacon Island in Getafe town, Bohol last Saturday.
The cash giving came just as the family of Montes in Barangay Ermita, Cebu City appealed for financial help to enable them to give him a decent burial.
The Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR 7) also announced yesterday that a forensic team will arrive in the city on Monday to autopsy the remains of Montes, amid allegations by his family and of a child witness that he did not die in a shootout as reported by the police.
Osmeña yesterday took a swipe at CHR 7 for initiating the investigation.
“So CHR, since you’re so passionate about investigating the death of Cebu City’s 3rd biggest drug lord to make sure his human rights weren’t violated while he was selling P8.4M (million) in shabu daily, would it be too hard for you to also help the 10-year-old girl who was raped by her own family? Or is it that only: Criminals Have Rights,” read Osmeña’s Facebook post.
As the police swore to the legitimacy of their operation against Secretaria, Bancoleta and his team became the third batch to receive the reward from Osmeña who earlier offered P50,000 to policemen for each drug lord, a robber, or any criminal who gets killed. For the three slain drug suspects, the police got P150,000. They received another P5,000 for the wounded suspect, Ricardo Ostolono, who is now confined in a hospital in Tagbilaran City.
IT’S NOT A REWARD
“Don’t call it a reward. We’re not ordering people to kill. We’re giving money so that when our policemen shoot somebody, they will have money to defend themselves (should there be cases filed against them later on or as the need arises),” he said in an interview at his residence in Barangay Guadalupe here.
Osmeña also gave P20,000 to PO3 Julius Regis who shot two robbery suspects last month; and P50,000 to the Cebu City Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group after they killed a suspected drug dealer in Barangay Sudlon 2.
Osmeña said he pitied policemen who faced counter-charges following an operation and have no money to defend themselves.
“Look at (SPO1 Adonis) Dumpit. He’s convicted for what? For doing his job? And this is my message to other policemen. Who is going to defend you? Tommy Osmeña will defend you,” he said.
Dumpit, who was at Osmeña’s residence yesterday, was convicted of homicide for shooting dead a 17-year-old suspected robber in Cebu City in 2004. He was released last May 27 from the Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog town, Leyte after the Court of Appeals allowed him to post P250,000 in bail, pending the resolution of his appeal, for good behavior and for having served his minimum prison term of six years.
Bancoleta, who said they were very grateful for Osmeña’s support, said they decided to give P100,000 to a charitable institution that takes care of children with cancer and divided the P55,000 among the three Cebu-based units that took part in the operation: the RAIDSOT-7, the Provincial Intelligence Branch of the Cebu Provincial Police Office, and the Regional Public Safety Battalion.
“We will use the money to buy gears for our respective units,” Bancoleta said.
He stressed they pursued Secretaria and his group not for the reward: “To be honest we didn’t expect the money from the mayor because in the first place we are not members of the Cebu City Police Office. We’re just very happy about what he (Osmeña) did. It means a lot to us. His thought and support is more than the amount we got.”
The policemen, who raided Secretaria’s hideout at dawn on Saturday, said the alleged drug lord and two of his men were killed after shooting it out with the raiding team. But a 10-year-old witness claimed that Montes, 22, raised his hand in an apparent act of surrender and police operatives still shot him.
Bancoleta said they were open to an investigation.
“CHR is just doing their job. They have the mandate to ensure that we policemen do not go beyond what is allowed by law,” he said.
Osmeña said he would not pay heed to what his critics might say about his anti-crime policy for as long as the illegal drug trade would end.
“You know I’m focused in fighting drugs. I’m not focused about scoring pogi points. I don’t care whether people will like or hate me. I’m only fighting drugs. Never mind the what ifs. Never mind the scenario. Bahala na. That’s it,” he said.
Osmeña said the money he was offering was primarily meant for Cebu City policemen, but if a barangay tanod (village watchman) would kill a drug lord, he would also receive a cash assistance.
“Where do you draw the line? I draw the line when they are helping in the battle against drugs. But what if a drug lord kills another drug lord? Hala, I do not know how to answer that question,” he said laughing.
Osmeña said he knew that not all policemen are with him in the fight against illegal drugs. Thus, he said, there might be a need to “shake and bake” and conduct changes in the Philippine National Police, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
“The drug situation will not be that bad if there was no police protection. There was police protection and there is still police protection. There’s a lot of policemen, barangay officials, and even politicians who are involved in the drug trade. We have to shake everything,” he said.
Osmeña expressed distrust to PDEA: “I don’t believe in PDEA. I don’t know but they have to prove something to the people. You just don’t go to people and say ‘I’m PDEA, you should respect me.’ My answer is bullshit. You prove yourself. It’s like me. I don’t tell people to respect me because I’m the mayor. I have to earn it. I’m not like (suspended Mayor) Mike Rama,” he said.
Osmeña said he welcomed the report that the street value of a sachet of shabu has dropped from P300 to P60 amid growing fear among drug peddlers that their days were numbered, with President-elect Rodrigo Duterte soon taking the helm of the government, and due the sustained operations against illegal drugs. “But we are going to maintain that pressure,” he added.
Osmeña smiled when told that Duterte also offered reward money to policemen and soldiers who could get drug lords “dead or alive.”
“That’s good. But my score is still higher than him,” he quipped.
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