Espinoza: Improper

HAIL President Rodrigo Duterte for the continued and massive drive against illegal drugs! But has it gone too far? That's the question asked by the relatives of the victims who were suspected or were known drug pushers and killed in police operations.

Don’t get me wrong. I strongly support the campaign against illegal drugs, which has not only caused so much suffering on our youth but also burdened the parents and our society.

But as a civil country that abides by its Constitution and implements its laws, I am at a quandary and asked myself, what has happened with our criminal laws and the laws that protect human rights?

This is not in defense of those who were banished permanently from this mortal world as a result of the strong drive against illegal drugs. Perhaps they deserved their fate in the eyes of our jaded society.

But as a country of laws and not of men, allow me as a student of law to put forward my simple views on the intent of our laws.

Our laws were crafted by our forebears for the greater good. The laws were not tailored to benefit the influential or prominent few in our society. So ideally the laws are enforced without fear or favor whether one is rich or poor.

One specific criminal law that comes to mind amidst the fight against illegal drugs is Article 282 of the Revised Penal Code. It is about grave threats.

So, when your neighbor threatens to shoot you while pointing his handgun at you because you called him a boar, your next move is to report the incident to the police and then file a case for grave threats against your neighbor before the prosecutor’s office.

President Duterte is a lawyer and was once a Davao City prosecutor. He is presumed to know the law. But as President of this Republic, he is immune from suit during his term for whatever he says in public. The PNP chief is not immune from suit though.

The case in point is that of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Sr. (not a relative). President Duterte had given him 24 hours to show up or he’ll be “shot-on-sight”. Such warning or threat may be acceptable if the town mayor is a fugitive from justice. But, he isn’t is he?

Anyway, out of fear for his dear life Mayor Espinosa voluntarily went to see PNP Chief Bato de la Rosa in Camp Crame. The mayor admitted his son Erwin is into illegal drugs. But does the crime of an adult son make the father liable?

Some local government units use “shaming” in public as part of the strategy in the fight against illegal drugs. But is this the kind of society we want? Charge them in court and make sure they’re convicted for their crimes. That’s justice justly served.

***

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is now facing graft charges before the Ombudsman for the memorandum he signed appointing two acting mayors when he went to Japan with his wife Margot to celebrate their birthdays last month.

The Cebu City Council also sought the opinion of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on the propriety of the memorandum appointing Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and OIC City Administrator Veronica Morelos as acting city mayors.

A dismissed City Hall employee filed the complaint before the Ombudsman on the memorandum of Mayor Osmeña for violation of the graft and corrupt practices act and ethical standards for government officials and employees.

In my interview yesterday morning in “Frankahay” over dyCM (1152AM), Vice Mayor Labella said that the DILG quickly replied to the query. However, he said he did not find it necessary to reveal it to the members of the press.

The DILG found it inappropriate for Mayor Osmeña to name two acting city mayors. The provision of the Local Government Code, particularly Section 46 specifically provides that the vice mayor shall automatically assume office when the mayor leaves the country.

As to why Mayor Osmeña appointed OIC City Administrator Morelos when Vice Mayor Labella was available, only he knows the reason. For this misstep, Mayor Osmeña now faces a graft case.

Are we to understand that this first graft case that Mayor Osmeña now faces is only the start of more to come? Atong sundan ang sunod panid sa estorya.
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