DRUG-RELATED fatal shootings involving operatives were few and far between. From 1997, when I first joined the editorial team of Sun.Star Cebu, to last June, such stories were automatically splashed on the first page as the day's banner or, at the very least, relegated to the second page.
But that has changed.
Since July 1, drug-related fatal shootings have become a daily occurrence to the point of being mundane. These have become so common that the violence is no longer considered headline-grabbing. Even when there is more than one fatality.
These incidents all have one thing in common: the suspected drug personalities all drew a gun and tried to shoot the operatives, prompting the latter to strike first. And the operatives didn't maim. They went for the kill. Or so it would seem.
I know the police have their rules of engagement. I don't what these are, but I'm pretty sure these don't include fatally shooting suspects during encounters. So operatives must have a good reason for being trigger-happy.
So I will give them the benefit of the doubt. No. Better yet, I will take their word for it. In this war against criminality and illegal drugs, there will always be casualties.
Our men and women in blue are out there in the front line, risking their lives to get rid of this social menace that has destroyed thousands of lives. I hate to say it, but I'd rather see the “bad” guys die than those who are sworn to serve and protect us.
But then there are the extrajudicial killings. Now that's a different story entirely. Vigilantes hunt down suspected criminals, kill them and then dispose of their bodies like they were animals. What scares the heck out of me is the overall public reaction… or the lack of it.
Has the situation gotten so bad that they are willing to turn a blind eye? Some sectors have been making noises, especially the Catholic Church, but they seem to be the minority.
Almost all of the local public officials have been mum on the matter. I have yet to hear the governor, mayors or councilors denounce the rising body count.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña had even upped the ante when he offered a P50,000-reward for every dead drug suspect, but then made a 180 degree turn when two police officials he recommended were relieved by Camp Crame.
It's not like the issue is easy to ignore. Drug-related violence has filled the pages of newspapers and dominated the airwaves.
So it was a breath of fresh air when I chanced upon the story of Editha Buaron, 60, and Linda Hayodine, 42, both of Barangay Looc, Mandaue City.
The two women, who are street cleaners in the city, found a wallet belonging to a participant of the Cobra Ironman 70.3 and promptly returned it. For their honesty, they each received P2,000 from City Hall.
“They don't want to receive any money, they just want to be appreciated...” read the FB post of the grateful wallet's owner.
Editha and Linda, I appreciate you.