Senate inquiry on Cebu killings urged
OPPOSITION Senators are calling for a senate investigation into the recent killings in Cebu, some of which were allegedly committed by police officers.
A statement sent by the camp of detained Senator Leila de Lima on Thursday said opposition senators filed Senate Resolution No. 915 because they were “gravely concerned” with the killings in Cebu, especially after allegations that police officers implementing the government’s war on drugs are involved in extra-judicial killings.
“The allegation that police officers themselves are behind some of the killings is highly disturbing,” the senators said in the resolution.
“As duty bearers, the PNP must observe proper operational procedures in order to fulfill the organization’s obligation with respect to human rights-based policing,” they added.
Cebu City Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia, for his part, slammed the move of the opposition councilors, saying it will put the police and President Rodrigo Duterte under a bad light.
He believed that senators, who are members of the Liberal Party, connived with Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña who was earlier vocal against some policemen who he said had a hand in the killings.
“Of course, those who filed are all Liberal Party members. They discussed this with BOPK and Tommy to embarrass the police and President Duterte,” said Garcia, a member of Barug-PDP Laban.
Osmeña hasn’t responded to queries from CEBUDAILYNEWS as of 6 p.m. on Thursday.
The senators also noted that authorities can only use force when it is “strictly necessary, for legal law enforcement purposes and called out the police for using the pretext of “resisting arrest” as a cause of death among drug suspects apprehended in anti-drug operations.
“The recurring narrative of ‘nanlaban’ – or suspects having resisted arrest – has been serving as a wrongful justification for fatalities during the conduct of police operations to curtail proliferation of illegal drugs,” the senators said.
A tally made by CEBU DAILY NEWS showed that at least 198 persons were killed this year. Of the number, 47 were killed in separate police operations while the rest were gunned down by unknown assailants.
Most of these murders remain unsolved. Police Regional director, Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, begged off from issuing any statement regarding the proposed Senate inquiry into the killings in Cebu.
“No comment muna kami. Wala pa advise. (No comment from us for now. There’ s no advise from our higher ups yet),” he told CDN.
In earlier interviews, Sinas denied accusations that the police were behind many killings in Cebu and said they are willing to face any investigation since they have nothing to hide.
Some Cebu policemen had been linked to at least three separate shooting incidents in the past three months.
Last July 30, PO1 Eugene Calumba was killed by the bodyguard of Tejero Barangay Councilor Jessielou Cadungog after the policeman alleged tried to ambush the councilman’s vehicle.
Barely a week later, on August 8, SPO1 Roderick Balili was linked to the ambush of Von Rian Tecson, an agent of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-7) agent, in Carcar City.
Balili also died of two gunshot wounds in the chest allegedly inflicted by Tecson as he lay dying in his vehicle.
Sinas denied Balili’s involvement in Tecson’s death, saying the policeman died of accidental firing.
Last week, on Oct. 4, five persons were killed along the Trans Central Highway in Barangay Malubog in Cebu City.
Two survivors claimed that policemen brought them to the mountain village where they were shot past 3 a.m.
One of the survivors was momentarily housed at the Archbishop’s Residence before being transferred to another location by the CHR-7.
“We are not coddling persons who are allegedly into drugs. We are not, in anyway, exonerating their sins. What we do is just to provide a sanctuary to protect lives because life is precious. The Church will always be a sanctuary for those who need help,” said Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma as he added that the Church is always open to anyone who seeks protection.