A human rights win

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014


JUDGE Ester Veloso of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City recently convicted Senior Police Officer I Adonis Dumpit of the crime of homicide for the fatal shooting of Ronron Go last Dec. 14, 2004.

The decision was welcomed by Cebu’s legal community as being a product of a keen factual and legal analysis of the case. According to news reports, even the able and competent counsel for the accused, Benjamin Militar, did not complain about the ruling because of the judge’s fairness in the handling of the case.

However, Supt. Pablo Labra II, acting chief of Police Regional Office 7’s Regional Intelligence Division, said Dumpit’s conviction can demoralize police personnel.

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The decision on the unjustified slaying of a robbery suspect brought back chilling memories of the breakdown of law and order with the spate of unsolved robberies in Cebu City in the last months of 2004.

As a knee-jerk reaction to the series of unsolved crimes and as a response to the public’s loss of patience, suspected criminals were gunned down with impunity allegedly by vigilante cops.

In the Dec. 30, 2004 issue of Sun.Star Cebu, it was reported that the number of “salvaging” fatalities in Cebu City reached 13 in just eight days.

The Jan. 8, 2005 issue of the same newspaper carried the banner headline “Tomas admits: I inspired killings.” The admission drew strong protests from human rights groups.

Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City Chapter under my leadership passed a resolution condemning the summary executions of suspected robbers as “clearly barbaric, illegal and unconstitutional” and “have no place in a supposedly civilized and democratic society.”

The principled stand of Cebu City lawyers earned the ire of then mayor Tomas Osmeña who may have wanted to imitate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in “cleansing” Davao City of criminals with the use of criminal methods.

The proponents of summary executions forgot that the use of unlawful means to stamp out lawlessness can not achieve peace except the peace of the cemetery.

Look at Duterte’s Davao City, which prides itself for its alleged success in solving criminality with the use of criminal methods also known as “salvaging.” Davao City is not a paragon of peace and order because Cebuano businessman Richard King was murdered right in the heart of the city on June 12, 2014. One of the principal suspects in the said killing is a police officer based in Davao City.

Dumpit’s crime committed 10 years ago may have been the product of the aberration of the times when lawlessness in the streets made our citizens impatient with the justice system. The city authorities, inspired by Duterte, gave our law enforcers the right to play God and exercised absolute power of life and death over suspected criminals.

But that is not how democracy works. The rule of law, no matter how tedious and time-consuming, must be observed because under our justice system, the worst criminal is entitled to his day in court.

Judge Veloso’s decision convicting a wayward police officer for the unjustified killing of a young robbery suspect upholds the rule of law and is a triumph of human rights.--Democrito C. Barcenas

Two calamities

Late quarter of last year, natural calamities struck the Visayas. First was the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that mainly hit Bohol. This was followed by super typhoon Yolanda that badly devastated areas in Samar and Leyte and the northern part of Cebu.

Both calamities damaged structures and caused the loss of lives. But not only were the victims affected but also the government itself.

As reports of the devastations reached the four corners of the world, foreign countries and institutions gave financial and other forms of help. The United Nations also pitched in. Relief efforts and rehabilitation work proceeded in earnest.

Super typhoon Yolanda also damaged school buildings, the main source od education and learning.

When the earthquake struck, classes were suspended in Bohol and Cebu. After super typhoon Yolaada struck, classes were suspended in places where the school buildings were damaged. Classes resumed months after but rehabilitation work continued.

Meanwhile, school personnel and students were made to undergo stress debriefing. This was initiated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other agencies.

What hit us were calamities, and these tested our determination to survive. In situations like this, prayers can help.--Ma. Liza Patiga-Abergas, Alaska Elementary School

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 14, 2014.

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