Editorial: CHR partly to blame?

CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña sometimes uses weird logic when tackling certain issues. Consider his latest statement on the spate of killings that have hit Cebu recently, capped by the attempt on the life of businessman Wellington Lim. He partly pinned the blame for the killings on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

It’s actually an old claim applied to the wrong scenario. When those victimized are suspects in crime--like alleged drug peddlers in the case of the war against drugs by the Duterte administration--and the CHR investigates, the commission is flogged for supposedly siding with criminals.

“What I see is that criminals are not afraid anymore because they have human rights and the victims have no human rights. So what happened? There will be more victims. They’re a big part of this,” Osmeña said of the CHR.

The Osmeña argument applies mainly to a situation where a suspect victimizes, say, a woman in a rape incident and he gets killed by law enforcers while being pursued. The CHR, if it decides to look into the legitimacy of the suspect’s killing, may be accused of favoring the suspect instead of his victim. Then Osmeña’s logic applies, although it’s still fallacious.

The recent spate of killings is a different scenario. Most of them were done by suspects that even the police could not seem to identify. There are even suspicions, at least in the incident involving Lim, that it was the handiwork of some law enforcers themselves—an unfair claim. There have been no suspects killed.

If there is something that emboldens criminals in this scenario, it is the failure of law enforcers to prevent these criminal acts from happening and, after these happened, their failure to identify the perpetrators and solve the killings. In which case, the CHR can be put to task for a different reason: for not looking into the crimes and exerting pressure on law enforcers to solve these to prevent impunity from settling in.

Criminals, if they really are no longer afraid of doing what they are doing now, are probably emboldened because the law still has to touch them. And it isn’t CHR’s task to catch them.
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