THE shooting to death Wednesday night of an official of a homeowners' group in Barangay Lahug by a still unidentified gunman and his motorcycle-riding companions shows that despite the heightened alert occasioned by the celebration of the feast of the Sto. Niño tomorrow and the start of the election period, determined criminals can still do their thing. Lahug has been in the news lately because of the conflict between victims of a recent fire and the owner of the lot hit by the conflagration.
Security has been a hot topic for weeks now because of the fiesta tomorrow and the hosting by Cebu City of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) a week after. Coinciding with that is the implementation starting last Jan. 10 of an election gun ban. One can ask, therefore, how with the strict security measures already in place, a gunman was able to kill Lahug homeowners’ group official Virgilio Gabiana.
The incident should prod both law enforcers and the public to raise a notch their vigilance, more so because today and tomorrow are the critical days of the fiesta celebration. The religious procession today and the Sinulog Grand Parade tomorrow are traditional crowd drawers. A week after that, Metro Cebu will be bursting at the seams with IEC delegates.
Meanwhile, how the controversy over the relief of Batiancela and the assumption of Benjamin Santos as officer-in-charge of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) is resolved is important in the security preparations for the IEC. While Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to intervene, Santos is already starting to do his job as police chief.
How Labella will work with Santos is a question that should be answered in the coming days. But to implement well the security plans for the IEC, the relationship between the mayor and the police chief should be smooth. As for Santos, he should prove that he deserves his deployment to Cebu City by the Philippine National Police (PNP) hierarchy. Securing the IEC would test his capability.
Despite these glitches, we still hope that order will be maintained as the major activities hosted by Cebu City unfurls.