Mid­night mur­der

Cebu Daily News - - OPINION -

It’s just too un­for­tu­nate for bur­glary sus­pect Len­don Abade­nas that he ended up de­tained at the Er­mita barangay hall of Cebu City of all places where he would meet his death at the hands of two tan­ods who ob­vi­ously don’t care a whit about due process.

Jun­niel Sanchez and Jerome Mi­ral face charges at the Cebu City Pros­e­cu­tor’s Of­fice for the mur­der of Abade­nas, a Cebu City res­i­dent who may or may not have bur­glar­ized a house nor even stole some­thing as what the two tan­ods ac­cused him of do­ing.

Abade­nas may not even be his real name, and so far, no one has claimed his re­mains. For all we know, he may just be a va­grant whom Sanchez and Mi­ral picked off the streets to show as ac­com­plish­ment to their bosses at the barangay hall.

The way he died or was killed was merely a re­flec­tion of what the po­lice had been ac­cused of do­ing more than one year into the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion’s drug war — that is, seem­ingly pick­ing tar­gets at ran­dom and ex­e­cut­ing them at will prefer­ably with no wit­nesses in sight.

While there was no men­tion of Abade­nas us­ing drugs, the bru­tal treat­ment he al­legedly re­ceived at the hands of Sanchez and Mi­ral could just be as typ­i­cal as the way po­lice han­dled il­le­gal drug and crim­i­nal sus­pects.

There were no se­cu­rity cam­eras, but there were de­tainees who wit­nessed how Mir al and Sanchez man han­dled Abade­nas be­fore they brought him out for trans­fer to the nearby Car­bon Po­lice Precinct at mid­night.

The eye­wit­ness ac­counts prac­ti­cally sealed the case and re­futed what­ever re­but­tals the two tan­ods have in de­fend­ing them­selves since it was clear that Abade­nas — hand­cuffed pre­sum­ably with his hands be­hind, mouth cov­ered with scotch tape and bruised all over — could not pos­si­bly hope to over­power an armed Sanchez and Mi­ral at the same time.

Un­less he has a spe­cial skill set, i.e., he was a ninja or a com­mando, Abade­nas had no way of es­cap­ing from the two tan­ods with the po­lice precinct nearby. And the ob­vi­ous ques­tion would be why he was de­tained in the barangay hall in the first place.

While Barangay Er­mita of­fi­cials may jus­tify that their cell is merely a tem­po­rary hold­ing place for sus­pects prior to their trans­fer to the po­lice precinct, the prob­lem lies when they are de­tained for far longer than nec­es­sary.

That it hap­pened un­der the nose of Er­mita Barangay Cap­tain Feli­cisimo Rupinta is a telling in­dict­ment on how he has mis­man­aged the barangay’s peace and or­der sit­u­a­tion.

What hap­pened to Abade­nas mir­rored the 2012 Trayvon Martin mur­der in Mi­ami, Florida, in which a neigh­bor­hood watch­man named Ge­orge Zim­mer­man shot him on sus­pi­cion of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

Cebu City Hall and the Depart­ment of In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment (DILG) along with the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (CHR) should re­ori­ent barangay tan­ods on how to deal with crim­i­nal sus­pects and to co­or­di­nate with po­lice to avoid sim­i­lar in­ci­dents in the fu­ture.

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