EDITORIAL - Police trespassers

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Police trespassers

Was it a botched drug raid or a deliberate intrusion into a private home by law enforcers? While an investigation is under way, eight intelligence officers of the Lucena City police have been arrested and face criminal and administrative charges. The city’s police chief, meanwhile, has also been sacked for command responsibility.

People can only hope such disciplinary sanctions will prevent a repeat of the police raid on the home of Renelyn Rianzales in Barangay Ransohan. In her complaint, she narrated that men wearing face masks and dark clothing knocked down her house door on May 24 at 3:15 a.m. and entered without a warrant. She said they barged into her bedroom, ordering her at gunpoint to lie face down with her hands behind her back, and looking for her partner named Jonathan. When she told them he was at work in Laguna, they searched the house and then left after failing to find Jonathan.

Rianzales suspects that the raid was meant to scare her after she testified days earlier at a hearing of the House committee on public safety and order regarding unreported violent incidents committed by armed men during the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections last year in Ransohan. The 52-year-old Rianzales was a candidate in the 2023 BSKE.

The Lucena police reportedly planned to conduct a drug sting targeting a suspect whose house is several hundred meters away from the home of Rianzales. If this story is true, that was a colossal failure of intelligence on the part of intel agents – if indeed the raid was just an honest mistake.

The only positive aspect of this case is that the raiders were caught and disciplinary action taken immediately. The eight, reportedly led by a captain who should be familiar with the rules for conducting such law enforcement operations, are facing criminal charges for grave threats, unjust vexation and violation of domicile as well as an administrative case for grave misconduct.

Officials have repeatedly reassured the public and the world that the Marcos administration respects human rights and is pursuing a different approach in dealing with the illegal drug menace. The previous administration became notorious for its bloody war on drugs, which started with a knock on the door of drug suspects under Oplan Tokhang. The Marcos administration should avoid gaining notoriety not only for knocking on the door of innocent persons, but worse, barging into the homes of private persons in the middle of the night without a court-issued warrant.

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