Cebu News

Police welcome CHR-7 probe into drug deaths

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City Police Office Director Joel Doria yesterday said he welcomes the move of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)-7 to investigate the killing of drug suspects in Cebu City.

This, as Cebu officials expressed mixed reactions to the supposed killing of alleged drug personalities.

Cebu Provincial Board Member Sun Shimura, who  heads the PB  Committee on Peace and Order, asked President Rodrigo Duterte and Police Regional Officer PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa to stop the killings.

Shimura said even criminals have the right to undergo due process and should not be shot during operations.

“Mura’g wa tay kalainan sa mga hayop. (This is a) barbaric style of government. This has to stop…. We should give the suspects due process by filing cases in court,” he said.

Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III, on the other hand, said he has no problem with criminals being killed in police legitimate operations, but summary executions or extra-judicial killings must not be tolerated.

“From the very start even, when I was still councilor of Cebu City I spoke against vigilante-type of killings or extra-judicial killings. I’m against that. I don’t condone that,” he said.

He said, though, that it is sometimes inevitable during a drug raid and other police operations that suspects may get shot and killed when they opt to resist.

“They (policemen) are entitled to protect themselves from assaults. If they (policemen) are there for legitimate operations and someone died that is justified,” he said.

The governor believes that the operations reported by the police are true and were not made up just so the police could cover up a rubout.

The spate of recent criminal killings by police has spiked fears of an extrajudicial crackdown after President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to stamp out crime by all means.

In Central Visayas, 22 drug suspects have been already killed and over 51,000 have surrendered since the police launched “Oplan Tokhang” last July 1.

 Vigilantes, on the other hand, gunned down at least three men linked to illegal drugs in Cebu.

Shimura said that if the rampant killings in Cebu will continue, the PB might conduct an inquiry into the incidents.

“Dili pa man grabe diri compared sa ubang regions. Hopefully dili lang gyud ni maing-ani,” he said. 

Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, on the other hand, said the CHR should investigate all killings.

“You know there could be elements who would take advantage of the situation. There could be others who are not really, were not doing it for…the fight against illegal drugs.  There could be criminal elements or even some police officers who would take advantage of the situation. That is why the CHR has to really come into (the picture),” the vice mayor said.

“They have to look… kung tinood ba gyud na nga nisukol mao nang tan-awon gyud na kay mao lagi na, take advantage of the situation. You could never prevent ba the abuse of power or abuse of authority. Mao nang tan-awon gyud na. Mao nang there is a balancing that has to be done, nga while you are given the duty or the obligation to enforce the law, you must see to it that you have not violated also existing laws and rules,” Labella said.

For Doria, however, the death of Regiono dela Cruz, a resident of Sitio Looban, Villagonzalo II, Barangay Tejero, Cebu City in the hands of Waterfront Police Station operatives, was legitimate as he resisted arrest. 

“Wala naman tayong tinatago,” he said.

He said his men received a call from a concerned citizen informing them of the presence of an alleged armed person. Responding policemen saw Cruz, who was in Waterfront police’s watchlist, pull out a gun and fire at them, forcing them to fire back and hit him.

Police Regional Office-7 Director Noli Taliño likewise said they are open to an investigation as all of operations involving drug suspects being killed were legitimate.

“Ito yung drug pushers na lumalaban,” he said, adding that what his men did was self-defense.

“Sabi nga ni chief PNP (Police Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa) if clear na ang usok ang bubulagta ay drug pushers not the police,” he added.

Taliño said his men are also investigating to determine the identity of the perpetrators who killed alleged drug personalities but as of yesterday they found no clues yet.

He said these acts, which are tantamount to putting the law into one’s hands, are not legitimate police operations and should therefore be stopped.

“Kakasohan natin, bawal sa batas yon. We will not allow that to happen. Ang police lang ang mag-implement ng law,” he stated.

He said there is also the possibility that the perpetrators are actually drug personalities also.

“Posible na durugista rin ang nagpatay….  Baka grupo nila naglilinis din,” he said.

An unknown person sent Taliño a text message last week offering their help in the anti-drug crusade by killing drug personalities. The person also gave information on drug personalities in their place.

“Yung nag-text nag-bigay ng information,” he said, adding that the person did not insist on helping the police in killing drug personalities. — Kristine B. Quintas, Mylen P. Manto, Odessa O. Leyson (FREEMAN)

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