When will it end?
On Sunday night, as many of the metro’s residents wound their way back to the city after a long weekend unwinding in the provinces, and many more choked the malls and thoroughfares to enjoy the few hours remaining before the resumption of regular work yesterday, their week wrapped up with yet more news of successive killings in the past 24 hours: one man shot dead in Tayuman, and three more in Muntinlupa, Quezon City and Mandaluyong.
The latter incident involved a former chief prosecutor and barangay captain who was riddled with bullets while in his car, along with his family, by motorcycle-riding gunmen at 10 a.m., a hectic hour of the day on Mandaluyong’s dense Nueve de Febrero.
Needless to say, in all these incidents, the killers got away scot-free.
When will it end? Is there even any point in once again lamenting the utter breakdown in peace and order that all these brazen killings indicate?
It’s well past due for the police to insist, as they did at the beginning of this administration’s war on drugs, that many of the vigilante murders taking place were the handiwork of criminal syndicates trying to eliminate each other.
Even if that were so, ensuring that the streets didn’t descend into mayhem among panicked criminal gangs is basically the police’s job — one that, with an estimated 13,000 deaths later, it has clearly failed to do.
The investigation part is an even more dismal figure. Of the thousands of cases of extrajudicial killings, how many have reached resolution, let alone seen the perpetrators caught and charged in court?
The fresh killings last Sunday will no doubt share the fate of similar previous incidents: buried and all but forgotten. Unless, of course, the victim happened to be a minor, the brutality was caught on CCTV, and there was sufficient public outcry — as in the case of the 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, in which case a jolted Malacañang could move with remarkable speed to try to tamp down the outrage with a promise to mete out swift justice for the boy, and having Kian’s parents in a photo op with the President.
It’s safe to say no such Malacañang visits are forthcoming for the kin of other recent EJK victims; expecting a quick resolution of their cases is even more of a pipe dream, with the Department of Justice reportedly swamped with a mounting backlog of some 4,000 more cases on top of the 10,000 cases Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre claims to have inherited upon assuming office 14 months ago.
This means that “the DOJ failed to resolve 333 cases every month, or 14 cases for each of 293 working days, since June 30, 2016,” according to a report in this paper.
Aguirre blames the lack of prosecutors for the backlog, saying the department is in need of about 1,000 of them to fill the gap.
Many DOJ personnel are already assigned to the highly political cases that Aguirre likes wading into, especially when it concerns perceived non-allies: the cases against Sen. Leila de Lima, for instance, or the charges of unexplained wealth against Commission on Elections Chair Andres Bautista.
The sensational police killings occasioned by the war on drugs — such as the kidnapping and murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo right inside Camp Crame; the apparent rubouts of suspected drug lords Rolando Espinosa and Reynaldo Parojinog; and, most recently, the death, allegedly from a shootout, of fugitive Iloilo drug suspect Richard Prevendido — must also weigh heavily on investigators’ desks.
Assuming, of course, that these cases are indeed being worked on toward a just end. What has in fact happened to the policemen implicated in the truly heinous crimes against the Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo? Or, further back, the telltale case of cops caught and found moonlighting as vigilantes riding tandem in Mindoro?
Whether by neglect or willful design, it’s a reign of impunity out there, and it shows no signs of abating.
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