EDITORIAL - Everyone has rights and limits

Agence France-Presse

Some men posing as agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency were able to rob two houses in Sitio Himongbongan, Barangay Taloot, Argao town, last Tuesday.

According to reports, masked men were able to enter the homes by claiming they were anti-drug agents and once inside just grabbed what they could before leaving.

PDEA spokeswoman Leia Alcantara confirmed that the agency didn’t conduct an operation in Barangay Taloot at the time and that the men merely used the name of the agency to carry out their crime. She asked for help from the public to arrest these men maligning the name of their agency.

It’s so easy for some people to pretend to be law enforcers to get away with something. Remember those armed men who robbed a jewelry shop in Colon Street last November? They identified themselves as law enforcers serving a warrant.

It’s also automatic for people in general to believe someone who says he is a figure in authority, whether they claim to be a policeman, a soldier, a traffic enforcer, among others. Many of us would rather give them the benefit of the doubt out of politeness and respect and don’t bother ask for badges or IDs.

But even people in authority have limits. Even those who claim to be law enforcers cannot just do as they please. For instance they just cannot barge into your home, unless it is under a hot pursuit operation. That is why they need a warrant before they can search homes for people or items.

How could the incidents in Barangay Taloot have been avoided? There is no easy answer for that. When confronted by the suddenness of an event there may be no reliable way to tell if that man at your door --or that man inside your house already going through your items-- is a bona fide law enforcer with a legitimate reason to enter your house or a criminal merely using the name of the law to commit his crime.

However, it may help for people to know their rights and the rights of others, especially what others can and cannot do in their premises and with their property.

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