It looks like vulnerable persons – those who are 60 years old and older with existing health conditions like lung or heart disease, diabetes or conditions that compromise their immune system – are not the only ones falling victim to the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Apparently, people with links to the illegal drug trade are highly susceptible, too.
So what if the former succumb to illness after getting infected with Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes the novel coronavirus, and not die in the hands of gun-wielding men who manage to circumvent checkpoints and other security measures that have been in place since the health crisis began in the middle of March last year?
On Thursday night, Jan. 14, 2021, a member of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) was killed after he was shot several times by eight men on motorcycles while he was guarding the entrance of the Danao City Jail in Sitio Sta. Cruz, Barangay Dunggo-an.
Police are still reviewing the footage since the whole thing was caught on security camera. But since community quarantine protocols require the wearing of face masks and there is an existing law that requires motorcycle drivers and their passengers to wear helmets, identifying the perpetrators may pose a problem.
However, investigators may still be able to trace the motorcycles through their license plates, although that may be highly unlikely since the incident happened so fast and the attack took place at night, which would affect visibility.
At any rate, the question everyone should be asking is why the victim, who, according to initial information gathered by investigators, was arrested in 2015 over allegations that he was selling illegal drugs while he was assigned in Balamban town, was still allowed to report to work.
The last time I checked, involvement in the illegal drug trade is automatic ground for dismissal for members of law enforcement agencies, including the BJMP.
Even the chief of the Danao Police Station is at her wits end.
In August, a police officer assigned in the Cordillera but who was on vacation leave in Cebu survived an attack in Lapu-Lapu City.
Although the circumstances were different -- the incident took place in the morning and the perpetrators were on board a van – the target was on President Rodrigo Duterte’s list of law enforcers involved in narcotics.
The question that was raised then was why the police officer was able to leave his post considering the Philippine National Police was on high alert due to the pandemic and the bombing in Jolo, Sulu.
The two men probably thought themselves safe and had gotten complacent after they were let off the hook. But they should have known better.
Data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency showed that from April to July 2020, the number of people killed in anti-drug operations rose almost 50 percent compared to the same period the year before. I don’t have figures after that, but judging by what has happened here, the trend hasn’t changed much.
But how is the Duterte administration’s war against drugs be similar to the war against a highly infectious virus?
Some of you may find the comparison farfetched and think me out of my mind for making it, but hear me out.
In both cases, the public has been made aware of what can happen to them if and when their acts finally catch up with them. It may not be an automatic death sentence, but the repercussions can be dire.
Time and time again, health officials have reminded the public of the dangers of Covid-19 just as authorities have reminded them of the dangers of illegal drugs.
They can’t say they haven’t been warned.
Unfortunately, many continue to throw caution to the winds, having adopted a fatalistic view towards life in view of their socio-geographic situation.
“Bahala na,” many Filipinos would say. However, history has taught us that those who prepare for the storm have a higher chance of weathering it.
So do wear face masks, avoid crowds, make sure to observe physical distancing and, yes, don’t get involved in drugs if you want to remain safe in these trying times.
With that said, Pit Senyor, everyone!