Editorial: Proposed creation of legal team

SHOULD lack of sympathy be a reason to go beyond the bounds of the law? That seems to be what Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña signified when he talked about a lack of sympathy for criminals in relation to the much criticized P50,000 legal assistance he dangled to policemen who kill crime suspects in the line of duty. He equates lack of sympathy with loss of humanity.

The mayor’s statement does not add up, however. The issue on the legal aid is about the killing of mere suspects, not convicted criminals. The police cannot be judge, jury and executioner at the same time. And even if those killed were criminals, the police still have to follow protocol in dealing with them. They cannot be encouraged to kill anybody without regard for protocol just to avail themselves of the dangled P50,000.

What his recent statement tells us, however, is that he is sticking to his guns despite the flak he received for his proposal and even with opposition councilors coming up with initiatives to ensure that it would lose its sting. The Cebu City Council, with Barug Team Rama gaining a shaky majority, has passed a motion reminding the police to strictly comply with procedural guidelines in arresting crime suspects.

Also, Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia of Barug Team Rama presented a better option in spending money from the City’s coffers (where the P50,000 will be sourced). He is pushing for the creation by the mayor of a legal team to assist policemen who are brought to court for acts committed while doing their job. A legal team can provide better help than the P50,000, which is small considering the current cost of litigation.

But chances are the mayor’s ego and motivation would ensure that what Garcia proposed wouldn’t be realized. Osmeña doesn’t want to be dictated upon, more so by the opposition. Besides, the creation of a legal team would go against the actual intention of the P50,000 scheme, which is to take away the worries of the police when they kill suspected criminals.
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