When tan­ods go be­yond their lim­its

ATTY. RUPHIL F. BAÑOC

Cebu Daily News - - OPINION -

Ev­ery­body ac­knowl­edges what tan­ods con­trib­ute to keep us safe, par­tic­u­larly at night. The killing of an al­leged bur­glar in the hands of tan­ods is an iso­lated case. Such in­ci­dent is a re­minder and a chal­lenge also to the PNP to strictly im­ple­ment the law on firearms and am­mu­ni­tions.

Last Sun­day, al­leged bur­glar Len­don Abade­nas, 36, was ar­rested by the tan­ods of Barangay Er­mita, Cebu City. He was de­tained at the barangay hall. Past mid­night on Tues­day, he was re­port­edly es­corted by at least three tan­ods out of the barangay de­ten­tion cell to the Car­bon Po­lice Precinct.

Un­for­tu­nately, there was no proper turnover that hap­pened be­tween the tan­ods and the po­lice be­cause Abade­nas ar­rived at the po­lice precinct alone and in crit­i­cal con­di­tion with gun­shot wounds in his chest. He fell down in front of the po­lice precinct with his mouth gagged with a tape and his hands hand­cuffed.

The on-duty po­lice­men of the Car­bon Po­lice Precinct im­me­di­ately brought him to the hospi­tal. Be­fore that, when the tape taped on the vic­tim’s mouth was re­moved, Abade­nas was able to tell the po­lice that he was shot by a barangay tanod. He was de­clared by the doc­tors as dead on ar­rival.

So far, there are two tan­ods who vol­un­tar­ily sur­ren­dered and are now un­der the cus­tody of the po­lice. They are iden­ti­fied as Jerome Mi­ral and Jun­niel Sanchez.

Dur­ing my live on-air in­ter­view at my “Straight to the Point” ra­dio pro­gram of dyHP RMN Cebu, the two tan­ods par­tially ad­mit­ted to the crime. On the part of tanod Mi­ral, he ad­mit­ted that he was the one who ar­rested Abade­nas but de­nied any in­volve­ment in the killing be­cause he al­legedly went home al­ready when the in­ci­dent hap­pened.

Sanchez for his part, ad­mit­ted as the one who shot Abade­nas but de­nied that he did it in­tently. He ex­plained that he shot Abade­nas out of self-de­fense as the lat­ter al­legedly tried to grab his .45 cal­iber pis­tol that was tucked in his waist.

In the course of my in­ter­view, I asked ques­tions that would test their cred­i­bil­ity. I ob­served that the two were eva­sive in an­swer­ing squarely my sim­ple ques­tions. They even asked to cut short the in­ter­view de­spite be­ing told to grab the air­time op­por­tu­nity to ex­plain their side.

Aside from my per­sonal ob­ser­va­tions, plus the avail­able ev­i­dence gath­ered by the po­lice, in­clud­ing the dy­ing dec­la­ra­tion of Abade­nas, which is ac­knowl­edged un­der the Rules on Ev­i­dence, the fol­low­ing ques­tions scream loud for an­swers: Why did the tan­ods not turn over the ar­rested per­son to the po­lice im­me­di­ately af­ter the ar­rest? Is it not a fact that the po­lice sta­tion is only a walk­ing dis­tance from the barangay hall? How true is the re­port that they in­tently not to turn over an ar­rested per­son to the po­lice be­cause they make ne­go­ti­a­tions first in ex­change of money? How true that only when the ne­go­ti­a­tion fails would they turn over a de­tainee to the po­lice?

What was re­ally the in­ten­tion of get­ting the de­tainee at mid­night? Was it for pur­poses of turn­ing him over to the po­lice? Or did they have other plans of bring­ing him to an un­in­hab­ited place? Why did the tanod bring with him an un­li­censed firearm? How come that a hand­cuffed de­tainee al­legedly tried to grab the firearm of the tanod as claimed by the lat­ter?

Un­der the law, tan­ods are not al­lowed to carry guns. If there is ne­ces­sity for a tanod to carry a gun, then he has to ap­ply for the proper per­mits in ac­cor­dance with the law. He has to un­dergo the process of sub­ject­ing him­self in a drug test, gun safety sem­i­nar, neu­ro­log­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tions and sub­mit the re­quired doc­u­ments.

For now, the po­lice is re­port­edly pre­par­ing a mur­der case against the tan­ods. I hope that this in­ci­dent could give a les­son to all tan­ods to be the first to fol­low the law and ob­serve the lim­its of their func­tions as tan­ods.

This is a chal­lenge on the part of the po­lice to con­fis­cate loose firearms so that crim­i­nals could not use them in com­mit­ting crimes. The strict re­quire­ments un­der the law for good cit­i­zens to ob­tain li­cense be­fore they can own and carry guns will lose its logic if crim­i­nals can eas­ily con­tinue to bring their un­reg­is­tered guns.

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