Editorial: A worrisome incident-A A +A
Thursday, September 19, 2013
SPECIAL Investigation Task Group Tabanao is leaning toward the illegal drugs angle in the killing of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) operative Jesus “Jessie” Tabanao in Barangay Camputhaw, Cebu City last Sept. 14.
The head of the task force, Supt. Reycel Carmelo Dayon, said the killing may be drug-related based on their initial findings and on the study of the text messages they found in Tabanao’s cell phone.
Of course, the killing was probably work-related and not because he was a former full-time mediaman and recently worked part-time as broadcaster, anchoring an anti-drug advocacy program on dyRC. Not many people even knew Tabanao was back on air.
Meaning, his killing wasn’t necessarily timed with the opening of this year’s celebration of Press Freedom Week last Sunday.
That does not mean the incident is not worrisome. It is, especially because he may have been killed to derail a plan to cripple a drug syndicate. It is not often that a law enforcer, an operative of the very government agency tasked to go after the illegal drug trade at that, would be killed to prevent him from doing his job.
We do not want to go the way of Mexico, do we?
British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) estimates the number of people killed, since 2006, in drug-related cases in Mexico at more than 60,000. The victims include suspected members of drug syndicates, security forces elements and innocent bystanders.
One of the high-profile arrests by Mexican policemen recently was that of Mario Nunez, a former police officer. He was linked to the murder of more than 350 people recovered from 23 hidden mass graves.
The failure by Philippine authorities in the campaign against the illegal drug trade has still to reach the lows reached by Mexican law enforcers, but if we don’t watch out, chances are we will end up in the same situation.
There are similarities in the manner Philippine authorities and Mexican law enforcers are dealing with the problem. BBC noted, for example, that the battle against the drug cartels in Mexico has been undermined for years by corruption, with security forces colluding with drug syndicates.
In this sense, Jessie Tabanao’s killing cannot be downplayed.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 19, 2013.