CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s announced reward scheme (disguised as legal assistance) for the police is not new, it is as old as when so-called vigilantes roamed Cebu City and killed a number of suspected criminals from 2004 to 2006. Osmeña was also mayor at that time.
Which means that the mayor has long been in the habit of dangling monetary rewards to policemen who kill any suspected criminal—although under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte the drug dealer variety has become the most favored.
“I have a general message for the police: if you kill a drug lord in the line of duty, you get P50,000, basta (for as long as it’s) legal or in the line of duty,” the mayor said of the current reincarnation of his reward scheme.
In 2004, the reward scheme sounded novel. What followed was a killing orgy that extended until 2006 when the number of suspected criminals reached to almost 200. To be fair, most of the killings were done not by the police but by unidentified gunmen who, rumors said, were also paid by unidentified financiers for every kill.
But the spate of killings didn’t only victimize suspected criminals, it led to the jailing of one of Osmeña’s model on how law enforcers should treat suspected criminals: the sharp-shooting SPO1 Adonis Dumpit. What did Dumpit in was his killing of suspected robber Ronron Go in 2004.
Dumpit served jail time for six years at the old Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center in Cebu City and the Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog, Southern Leyte. He is back in the police service after the court allowed him to post bail. Looking back, Dumpit had admitted feeling alone battling the criminal case filed against him.
George Santayana’s “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it” could thus apply in the mayor’s reiteration of the reward system that he dangles every so often when posturing against criminality. The reward system victimizes both the suspected criminals and law enforcers.
In the end, there is no substitute for fighting criminality the right way. Let not the P50,000—a very small amount for one’s reputation and freedom—sway a law enforcer into losing his humanity.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on December 12, 2017.
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