Continuing war
VERBAL VARIETY - Annie Fe Perez (The Freeman) - November 8, 2016 - 12:00am

What shocked the whole country last Saturday was the death of Albuera Mayor Ronald Espinosa while he was inside his prison cell in Leyte. According to reports, he was served a search warrant by one of the lead units of the Philippine National Police. They said they were looking for a gun; they found it, yes, and alleged that the mayor held it while the operatives entered his cell. It was alleged that the mayor fired at them prompting them to fire back, thus, ending his life inside the place where he thought was a refuge after being tagged in the narco trade by none other than the president himself.

What a story. Seems pretty typical to me, I should say. The version that I got as of this writing is likened to that of every claim of the police who performs buy bust or search warrant operations. Of course, nobody knows as media or other officials were not there to witness these events. It is so easy to claim but harder to prove.

Everyone thinks it's a loss, even I do too. During the president's early days he already mentioned the name of the mayor and he flew immediately to the headquarters of the police to surrender. He even stayed there with his family for fear that his life might end. But he was kicked out, and forced to go back to where he hails from. I couldn't forget that Saturday morning where I sat at the cold floor of the Cebu International Airport waiting for the mayor to arrive from Manila. His flight was delayed for more than three hours. When passengers arrived, we followed a man wearing a black hoodie who was being escorted by the police. At the police office, we were shocked to see the mayor's brother - we were trapped by the decoy of the authorities. For some reason, his arrival was pretty secret and he was rushed to the hospital to get himself checked.

What would a person feel if his life is in danger? I guess there is endless throbbing of the heart followed by paranoia and an instinct of protecting their loved ones as well. It would have been normal for this person to hide but the mayor did not run away. He was willing to be investigated.  He even turned himself in.

He could have been a witness. He had all the information we would need to significantly cripple the trade of illegal drugs in our country. His statements could help us trace where, when, and why the proliferation of illegal drugs still continue despite various efforts of different agencies and sectors. Although he may have affidavits executed in good faith, the person could have done us all a favor in tracking down the root cause of the problem that has been eating our society for decades.

The war against drugs isn't over despite the whopping number of people who have turned themselves in as well as those killed in police operations. Somehow there are still those who do not fear the president and his standing order to eliminate illegal drugs in our country. They say it is their means of income, but there are better ways of making a living.

The next days will be grueling, pinpointing who did what in the most shocking operation inside the prison cell. There will be those liable for the missing CCTV footage and other details that we hold no control of. We could only wish that their conscience will guide those involved to blurt out the truth.

For us who are on the outside, we can do more than to be judges of news reports. We can extend our hand to the community, help those who do not have jobs, or who have lost themselves because of the illegal substance. The goal of change will never be achieved if the sidelines will forever be our home.

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