Blood, corruption in the ranks
Based on the accounts of his parents, Senior Insp. Raymond Hortezuela of the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office was a model parent who never benefited nor acted as a protector of the illegal drug trade.
“If he was a drug protector he would have been rich now. He would not have struggled to raise his family,” Hortezuela's father Wilfredo told reporters in Cebuano.
The elder Hortezuela said his son and his family lived with him and his wife in Barangay Looc, Mandaue City. In fact, Hortezuela's wife Maricel said he bought noodles for his daughter for her birthday before heading back to headquarters in Negros Oriental province.
Then again, the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office claimed that Hortezuela asked permission from them to go to Cebu to attend a court hearing but he didn't produce documents showing that he had a court appointment.
These and other seemingly contradictory information would be sifted by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) regional office as it investigates Hortezuela's death in a drug bust by Cebu police last Sunday.
Owing to his rank and his service record in Cebu, it was surprising to learn from the Police Regional Office that Hortezuela allegedly acted as protector of the late Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, considered as the top drug lord in Central Visayas and among the first casualties in the bloody war on illegal drugs.
Hortezuela's death also came amid President Rodrigo Duterte's directive to barangay officials to support his administration's relentless war against illegal drug traffickers whose numbers and connections have seemingly not wavered amid the continued rise in casualties.
Part of the reason may stem from the endemic corruption pervading law enforcement agencies that have been abetted and fostered by the drug lords ever since the drug trade came about in the late part of the 20th century.
Despite the President's persistent claims that he will end the drug menace and while there may be signs that the drug trade is going down, it won't end until there is little to no demand for these dangerous substances.
Unfortunately, the Duterte administration had prioritized and touted relentless violence and decimation as the final solution to the drug menace without even considering if such an approach is an effective long term measure.
Aside from barangay officials, the President should hold into account the law enforcers themselves whose ranks are not immune to the lure of money and wealth promised by drug lords and yet have been given the green light to hunt down drug suspects even with little to no evidence.