City officials and law enforcers should act quickly and capably when there is an allegation that the community's peace has been breached by the privileged or powerful. This kind of action has been demonstrated recently in two instances by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.
In the first instance, Osmeña directed the Cebu City Police Office to file a complaint against businessman David Lim after the latter allegedly figured in a road crash that killed a motorcycle driver. No special favor should be given, Osmeña told City Police Director Joel Doria.
In the second incident, that happened yesterday, Osmeña scored the judge for refusing to issue a warrant of arrest against one "David Lim Jr." whom he and news reports identified as the suspect in the shooting of a nurse in the leg following a traffic altercation.
In his social media post, Osmeña revealed that he ordered the city's Special Weapons and Tactics team to look for the suspect in the house of the same David Lim who is reportedly the suspect's father. "I accept all legal responsibility," Osmeña said. The mayor himself accompanied the searching team.
I believe that Osmeña first sought a warrant of arrest from a judge because the police tiptoed around looking for the suspect and taking him into custody without judicial authority. When the judge did not issue a warrant of arrest, perhaps some legal minds advised the mayor that he could in fact justify a warrantless search and arrest under the "hot pursuit" doctrine.
In any case, Osmeña's move should be supported. The evil sought to be prevented here is the idea that any suspect who is well-connected and powerful can get away with being held to face trial for allegedly breaking the law or then orms on basic urban decorum.
If left unabated, this public perception of impunity by the privileged leads to the city residents' loss of faith in the rule of law which could in turn become a fertile ground for petty gangs and mafia groups to fill in the void created by the perception of a dysfunctional or unfair criminal justice system.
This, I think, is where the mayor is coming from in these recent events. He is being a father to the city trying to show his children that there is no special treatment among them. "No instant condemnation either. Just the due process everyone is entitled to. Fair enough?" Osmeña earlier wrote on Facebook.This is a welcome relief because we have not seen this kind of assertion from our leaders for a long time.
Ultimately, it is us ordinary city residents who must decide how much strut and swagger we can tolerate from certain people who co-exist with the rest of us in this dense urban space. While there naturally exists a privileged class in the city, occasions of abuse and raw displays of power are supposed to be deterred or at least tempered by certain levels of empowerment among a large middle class base and organized groups.
Lose that assumption and collective rage ensues.