Saturday, August 17, 2019

Seares: Strafing, photo-taking, invading homes: Mary Ann calls out the police

News Sense

THE list of alleged acts of harassment by Cebu City police raised a “very serious” accusation against the armed force that is tasked to “preserve and protect” the citizenry.

But, wait, the people allegedly terrorized or harassed were only supporters of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), the local ruling party in the city.

If the police were oppressive only on suspected drug traffickers and other criminals, regardless of party ties, would it be all right?

Of course not. But probably, BOPK leaders wouldn’t be sounding as outraged as they do now. They, like their counterparts across aisle, had been mostly timid too.

De los Santos’s lament

Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos, in a privileged speech Monday (April 22), cited the Feb. 22 killings of two Bry. Lusaran tanods, the April 4 strafing of the houses of barangay captains of Sudlon II and Sinsin, the April 12 “scary” visit of masked men at the house of the Agsungot barangay captain and leaving a live .45 cal. bullet on a bench outside a water refilling station, the taking of photos of the house barangay chief, and more recently the “barging” of police into the houses of a number of residents in Lahug, her home barangay.

“Very serious” charges, Barug Councilor Joel Garganera responded, but de los Santos should produce evidence or show personal knowledge that the incidents happened and police were involved. Garganera was appalled, especially over the use of the word “barging,” which conjures the image of cops breaking and entering without the homeowner’s permission.

Councilor Jun Alcover said similar incidents happened before, even worse, because people were killed and police didn’t solve the murder cases. He was against it then, he is against it now while his rivals in politics cheered or tolerated it.

Political season

This is political season. BOPK thinks the police is being used against its candidates or it’s a good issue anyway to raise before the public and win votes.

Never mind that BOPK has been vocal against alleged police wrongdoings only when its leaders or supporters are the victims. Or Barug has not been exactly vocal, or loud enough to be heard, on the unlawful killings that law enforcers tended to consign to the archives by labeling them as “drug-related.”

For awhile, Mayor Tomas Osmena did, but over some party leader or supporters targeted by the police, and not after President Duterte publicly shamed him. Until this new issue about cops allegedly being used as goons, with running mate de los Santos adding her voice to the complaint.

Who speaks for them?

BOPK complaining against alleged police terrorism or harassment doesn’t count much for public welfare if the motive is mostly to protect the party’s flock of voters. Barug responding with “Done before and we condemned it” or “Nothing wrong with it” hardly provides the assurance of public safety and protection of people’s rights.

The fact is no politician is speaking fully and vigorously for plain citizens, mostly nonpartisans, who are terrorized, harassed or killed even during the no-election season.


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