You don’t do that.
You don’t serve a search warrant at 4 o’clock in the morning on a Saturday to a detainee inside a provincial jail without proper coordination with people vested with higher authority.
You don’t engage in a shoot-out with a prison inmate whom the State has entrusted to the provincial jail’s custody, especially when it is in the best interest of the people to keep that person alive and well for the truth to come out.
You don’t get to lead an operation that leads to the deaths of two inmates only to mutter afterwards how evil these men were.
You don’t get to decide these things. You are a law enforcer but you are and never will be the law.
Explanations are in order.
Chief Inspector Leo Laraga of PNP-CIDG Region 8 must clear the air, and cooperate in an investigation on why a shoot-out was even necessary.
In his reaction, DILG Secretary Mike Sueno said that the police should adhere to their operations manual and respect the rights of the suspects, unless the lives of law enforcers are endangered.
“It is unfortunate that this operation led to the death of the inmates, but, of course, we also do not want our police officers to be the ones lying dead in the course of doing their job,” he added.
No one except the extremely bad guys would like to see a policeman killed in action. We don’t want people killed under any circumstances at all.
However, it does not take too much imagination to think that there are forces out there engaged in a tactical war to silence the very few that have first hand knowledge about the operations of drug traffickers. Espinosa, the father, was one of them.
The Dubai police force is holding on to the late mayor’s son, Erwin, as part of its own internal processes. He will be home soon to face charges of drug trafficking.
Was the shooting at Baybay provincial jail meant to warn the son against testifying and spilling the beans on other drug lords and protectors?
One cannot blame the public for thinking this way. After all, it was the son who was in the thick of all the operations. It was he who ran away. It is he who knows it all.
Our lives are as boring as four sets of white walls, compared with the intricate, bullet-riddled lives of big drug lords. We cannot fathom the underworld. Nor do we care to. That is the role of our law enforcement institutions, the justice department, and our courts.
I feel sad for the institutions that are now on the defensive on the issue of human rights. We need to hear the side of the provincial government that has jurisdiction over the provincial jail. Is it true that the jail guards refused to allow the CIDG agents inside the premises despite the court order?
We also need to see a copy of the court order. What prompted the judge to issue such a warrant, given that the subjects of the search were already in government custody?
We also need to listen to the side of the CIDG operations team. What was the urgency all about that they had to serve the warrant at 4 o’clock in the morning on a Saturday? The inmates were not going anywhere.
We now rely on the Commission on Human Rights to determine the truth from the cobweb of facts and innuendoes.
“Considering the circumstances surrounding the death of Mayor Espinosa, the Commission (on Human Rights) calls on the Philippine National Police and other concerned agencies, including the Baybay City Provincial Jail, to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation of the matter to hold people responsible for his death accountable. Likewise, the Commission, through ExtraJudicial Task Force Chairperson Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana has already directed the concerned CHR Regional Office to conduct its own independent investigation. The Commission assures the public that it will remain faithful to its constitutional duty to uphold the rights of all, without distinction.”
According to news reports, Mayor Espinosa had turned over to authorities a list of people, including protectors of drug lords holding government positions after he surrendered to the Philippine National Police.
That list will go no further than the mayor’s grave unless his son is brought home and kept alive. Who can we trust to do this delicate job considering the people’s right to know and be kept safe from the multibillion illegal drugs trade in the country?
We can only be safe once the financiers, protectors and the kingpins of the illegal drugs trade in the Philippines are identified, locked up and sentenced to jail.
It is to the best interest of the Duterte administration to establish quickly the facts surrounding the death of Mayor Espinosa, and to make sure that his son, Erwin, is kept alive and answerable to the law.
The truth, in this tragic instance, will keep us safe.