EDITORIAL - Were we wrong to hope for change under Eleazar?

EDITORIAL - Were we wrong to hope for change under Eleazar?

(The Freeman) - June 24, 2021 - 12:00am

It has happened yet again. Two men, one of them a 16-year-old, were killed – under questionable circumstances -- in a police operation last week in Biñan City, Laguna.

Police claimed that they were there to serve an arrest warrant for selling drugs against Antonio Dalit, 40, when Dalit and Johndy Maglinte, 16, allegedly resisted arrest and shot at them, prompting them to return fire.

However, the live-in partner of Maglinte said witnesses told her Maglinte did not really resist arrest. He was reportedly handcuffed, then made to lie face-down before being shot dead, allegedly to keep him silent after he saw how Dalit was also killed by policemen.

An aunt of Maglinte also said Maglinte didn’t own a gun, let alone knew how to use one.

Immediately, it looks to be like another police rubout, an extrajudicial killing, one justified by the police using a term that has become so infamous all over the country: “nanlaban”.

This latest incident has also raised questions as to why body cams were not used during the operation. Like we said in an earlier editorial, we don’t expect all policemen to be equipped with body cams, only those in operations likely to end in violence. This would have been the perfect occasion for such a device.

But let’s give the police the benefit of the doubt. The incident is still under investigation, so until everything is cleared up we cannot definitely say what happened and whether or not the police were justified in their actions.

However, we were hoping incidents like this would be a thing of the past under PNP Director Guillermo Eleazar.

Eleazar’s term as PNP chief began with hopes that there would be reforms in the PNP. He said he would not hesitate to instill discipline among his ranks and remove cops who don’t deserve to be there.

He also said he will be watching for any errors committed by policemen involved in unnecessary deaths in the war against drugs.

Extrajudicial killings remain a sensitive issue until now, and this particular incident may become Eleazar’s test case as new PNP chief. While he isn’t directly involved in the investigation, how it will be handled under his watch will most likely reflect how other similar incidents will be dealt with during his stay as head of the police organization.

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