Malilong: Don’t judge him yet

The Other Side

IF JEROME Labitan and Felix Abacajan Jr. know what is good for them, they should heed the call of Central Visayas regional police chief Debold Sinas and surrender to the authorities immediately, regardless of whether they’re guilty or innocent of the ambush on San Fernando Mayor Lakambini Reluya.

Both should realize that they are now dead men walking after the police tagged them as among the perpetrators of the ambush that killed the mayor’s husband and two others. If they were indeed the guns-for-hire who shot the victims, whoever it was who engaged their services would likely have them killed before they can have any opportunity to squeal on him.

If they’re innocent, the real gunmen and/or their mastermind will still have a reason to silence them because with their death the case will most likely be considered closed. As they oftentimes say in crime movies, dead men tell no tales.

The police have candidly admitted that they’re facing a blank wall insofar as identifying the crime’s mastermind is concerned. That there is a mastermind is admittedly an assumption but it is one that can be easily made since the two suspects are said to be hired guns and there is no showing that they had a personal motive to kill the Reluyas. Unmasking him is indeed difficult but it will become even more so if the only people who can provide a direct link of the gunmen to him are already dead.

While the Reluya ambush has at least, to quote the police, been partially solved, another one is proving to be a harder nut to crack. The killing of lawyer Mary Ann Castro happened days before gunmen peppered the San Fernando mayor’s vehicle with bullets but until now no suspect has been named, much less arrested.

What the police have are angles which they said they are pursuing, including the Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) connection, referring to an incident three years ago when Castro stormed the RSOG office in Camp Sergio Osmeña, prompting the policemen to arrest her. The incident resulted in the filing of charges and countercharges between Castro and the RSOG cops.

There is no doubt that Castro and the policemen involved strongly disliked, even hated, each other but the theory that the mutual hatred was enough motive to kill is quite a stretch. From the little that I have known about the conflict, the lives and careers of the RSOG personnel concerned have not necessarily taken for the worse because of the cases other than a six-month suspension that has long been served.

Anyway, since it is the job of the police to pursue all leads in any criminal investigation, let’s leave it at that even as we hope for an early solution of the crime and justice for Castro’s family.

Since we are talking about policemen, it is difficult to not mention the report about a member of the Regional Mobile Force Batallion who allegedly resigned because he did not want to be deployed in Lanao del Norte along with 329 Central Visayas policemen.

It is tempting to ridicule Police Officer 3 Aldwin Osorio as a coward as others have already done, but that is a knee-jerk reaction and it could be unfair especially since we have not heard his side. That he turned over his badge the day before he was supposed to leave for his new assignment is indeed improper (a slap in the face, according to Director Sinas) as he did not give his superiors sufficient time to pick a replacement.

But did he resign because he was afraid of his new assignment? That still has to be determined and until such time that we are certain of our facts, it is better and the more responsible thing to do to withhold judgment.


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