I like it that the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 clarified that Jonas Bueno is only a “person of interest” in the killing of Christine Silawan. He was arrested in Davao City for the killing of a Danao City resident, Trinidad Batucan, last January. Batucan was also skinned in what the Danao City police believed was a cult ritual. His two brothers already died for it.
Bueno is still not a suspect in the killing of Silawan even if she and Batucan were both skinned in the face. That’s because that is his only connection to the Silawan slay, a rather vague one. Even the possibility of Bueno and Silawan meeting in Lapu-Lapu City has dimmed with Bueno’s alibi: that he was already in Davao City when the girl was killed.
The connection I would like to make is between Bueno and the politicization of Silawans death with the call for the return of the death penalty. This has been in the agenda of some people, especially during the 2016 presidential elections. Another agenda is to paint the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) black, which they did by posting on social media the fake news that the CHR is protecting the suspect more than her family and those who want justice for Silawan.
Every heinous crime that happens is always used by some people as an excuse to weaken our adherence to due process and the rule of law. A heinous crime sparks a response that is more emotional than intellectual. The idea of vengeance takes primacy over everything. It is this emotion that some people has been riding on to advance their political agenda.
I say this is part of the political agenda of some people because liberal principles have always been associated with the previous government. The adherence by the government of former president Benigno Aquino III to due process and the rule of law and its advance of human rights principles were painted as the cause of the breakdown in the country’s peace and order, especially in the strengthening of the illegal drug trade.
Another election is coming in May and the opposing principles are again on display in the verbal exchanges between the administration senatorial bets and those of the opposition.
The case of Bueno may provide us with a better perspective on these principles. The main argument to the call for the return of the death penalty, and by extension the jettisoning of the principle of due process and the rule of law is our faulty criminal justice system. Extrajudicial killings and the death penalty could victimize the innocent.
Even now, there are people who consider Bueno a suspect in the Silawan killing even if the official police label is only as a “person of interest.” And even suspects are, well, still suspects until convicted by a competent court. And the police consider Bueno as still a respondent in the criminal case related to the Batucan killing. The case is still to be heard.
What if we insist on jumping to conclusions and in our obsession with vengeance killed Bueno for the Silawan killing? Or what if a case was filed against him even if he is innocent and he is convicted and sentenced to death?