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By: Editorial June 08,2016 - 09:30 PM


It’s still early days since the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) had yet to start its inquiry but we believe that Chief Supt. Patrocinio Comendador, Police Regional Office chief, is smart enough not to preempt and make immediate conclusions on the recent anti-drug raid in Banacon Island, Getafe town in Bohol province.

As of the moment, Comendador is insistent that the raid was above board and legitimate and that he welcomes any inquiry into the incident. The initial results of the autopsy showed that there was no overkill done that resulted in the deaths of suspected drug dealer Rowen Secretaria and two of his alleged accomplices John Jason Montes and Dario Torremocia.

Montes’s death is the subject of the CHR inquiry and as much as his parents are adamant that he didn’t deal nor was involved in illegal drugs, there is little to no evidence to support their claim other than the statements of those who know him as well as the lone girl witness of the operation.

Much as we sympathize with the girl’s plight—witnessing first hand someone being shot down is traumatic enough for an adult, more so a child—one cannot ignore the fact cited by Comendador that the community itself had been beholden to Secretaria and his cohorts for some time.

In that sense, it is the police’s word against a community that had benefitted from Secretaria’s alleged illegal drugs operations and who had shown their sympathy to his death by muting their own fiesta celebration and extolling his generosity to them.

Going beyond the funeral march and the condemnation of Montes’s parents over how the police operation resulted in the death of their son, we hope the CHR will not pull their punches and use every resource available at their disposal to determine if the operation was indeed a shootout and not a rubout.

The task isn’t easy owing to the prevailing sentiment and mandate by the incoming administration to go hard against drug traffickers. The CHR is there to ensure that the war against drugs is in keeping with existing laws on police procedures and due process.

For sure, the CHR findings may not amount to much and it is doubtful if it will result in any sanctions against the police officers who took part in the raid as both local and national officials led by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will no doubt find lawyers to defend their operation.

But again, if the CHR inquiry sends a message to law enforcers not to go overboard and arrest suspected drug traffickers and their accomplices by the book then it would have done its job. In an incoming age where the war against illegal drugs and other criminal activities meant giving more leeway to police officers to do their job, it is important to remind them to shoot only when absolutely necessary and not engage in summary executions even if it entails a fat cash reward.

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TAGS: Commission on Human Rights, drug, drug lord, drug pusher, drugs, human rights, illegal drugs

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