HAS Cebu’s peace and order situation so deteriorated that criminal groups can already order hits even on high-profile government personalities? Such a question can be asked following the revelation by Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Royina Garma that she is taking precautions after receiving an information someone has put up a P20-million bounty on her head.
Garma didn’t say where she got the information but she talked about big-time drug lords in the National Bilibid Prison putting up the bounty supposedly after she assumed her post as CCPO chief. “You know Cebu City is not a drug-free city so they know if I will assume office, their allies here will be restless because they know they won’t be able to get me on their side,” Garma said.
The unwritten rule among crime syndicates has always been to steer clear of law enforcers so as not to invite a harsh response from them. Has the situation so changed, or have those involved in the illegal drugs trade become so desperate, they are now willing to risk a harsh response from the police organization just to hit high-ranking police officials?
Interestingly, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Benigno Durana Jr. seems to follow the same line of thinking. When asked about the recent killing of another Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) operative in Cebu, he considered this as the “cost” of the government’s war on drugs. The insinuation is that they were killed by those involved in the illegal drugs trade.
Has this really become a two-sided war, with illegal drug traders hitting back with an armed response of their own? This is a dangerous assertion because of its implication, that the illegal drugs trade in the country may have reached the level in such countries as Mexico and Colombia where drug cartels maraud. Even then, with the killings continuing to grip Cebu and government officials talking about receiving death threats, the Cebu Archdiocese may be right in seeking solace in God via an “oratio imperata” that Archbishop Jose Palma will release soon. “We believe that in whatever issues and problems—big or small—prayer is the answer.”
We may have to say amen to that.