EDITORIAL - Breeding impunity

EDITORIAL - Breeding impunity

(The Philippine Star) - November 21, 2016 - 12:00am

In Manila last week, the deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Customs was shot dead while his driver was slightly wounded by a man on a motorcycle along busy España Boulevard during the evening rush hour. Probers are still trying to determine the motive for the killing of Arturo Lachica.

The fatal ambush came just two days after journalist Virgilio Maganes was shot in Dagupan City, Pangasinan as he was riding a tricycle on his way to radio station dwPR to host his program. Maganes said that when he played dead, the gunmen on a motorcycle drove away, after tossing a cardboard sign at him with the message: “Drug pusher ako Huwag tularan.”

Maganes, who also writes a newspaper column, said he had in fact been criticizing the proliferation of drug trafficking, black sand mining and illegal gambling particularly jueteng in Pangasinan, where he ran unsuccessfully for governor last May against winner Amado Espino III and Mark Cojuangco.

No such cardboard sign was tossed at Lachica, an appointee of the Aquino administration. Police said they were following up leads that Lachica’s murder could be work-related. He was on his way home from the Customs main office in Manila’s Port Area when he was ambushed.

At least there seems to be official interest in investigating his murder. There seems to be no such interest for many of the other killings perpetrated since the middle of the year, most of them attributed to the drug war. Police claim responsibility for only about half of the killings, saying these resulted from legitimate armed encounters.

Many of the other killings have been attributed to vigilantes who, police officials admit, could also be crooked cops silencing potential witnesses to avoid being implicated in the illegal drug trade. Police have also not ruled out the possibility that drug personalities are killing each other.

The truth deserves to be known, because with nearly 4,000 people slain so far, there is a strong possibility that a number of the victims are innocent and most of the killings are not justified. Such attacks can easily inspire killings unrelated to the drug war, which is what the murder of Lachica looks like. This is what happens when criminals see that one can kill with impunity, with no fear of any serious manhunt or even an investigation. Left unchecked, it could blow up in the face of an administration that has promised to keep the nation safe.

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