By: Manuel “Boy” Mejorada
ON MY way to Roxas City yesterday, I heard a follow-up report on AksyonRadyo Iloilo that three policemen who took part in a checkpoint duty in Sara, Iloilo on Monday night may have fired their weapons at a motorcycle-riding individual, and killing him, are now under technical arrest.
As I wrote in my last column, these policemen violated the rules of engagement when they fired their guns at the victim, identified as Adonis Hontiveros, after the victim, who was with a companion, failed to stop at the checkpoint.
The victim’s companion was able to jump from the motorcycle before the shooting happened, and was unhurt.
The policemen’s version was that Hontiveros made a u-turn before reaching the checkpoint. And that as the victim was driving away, he fired a shot in the direction of the policemen.
This is simply unbelievable. It’s the kind of police alibi to justify their actions that has been used countless times that we even anticipate hearing it before it is officially given. In the local dialect, “ugit na nga istorya.” The story is so jaded and worn-out.
I am glad that P/Colonel Roland Alonzo Vilela, the newly-installed Provincial Director of the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO), placed these three cops under technical arrest and had their weapons confiscated for forensic examination.
If allowed to pass, this glaring act of murder would put the entire police organization under a cloud of suspicion as abusive butchers. As I pointed out, there have been instances of police abuses in the past, including the actions of P/Major Jonathan Pinuela, chief of the Special Operations Group, during the last elections. This is the same Pinuela who barged into my home on June 7 without identifying himself as a law enforcement officer and forcibly handcuffed me without reading me my Miranda rights in serving a warrant of arrest for libel.
But it shouldn’t stop there.
PD Vilela should demonstrate to the Ilonggos that he is true to his word on instilling discipline among his men. The problem in the past is that commanders tend to shield their men from answering for their misdemeanors, or even crimes.
The PNP is now under fire with the revelations made by President Rodrigo Duterte himself that the so-called “Ninja Cops” are still around. The “Ninja Cops” are usually officers assigned to drug enforcement duties. When they make arrests and confiscate illegal drugs, they have been known to “recycle” the drugs and resell the items to drug syndicates.
Iloilo Province, too, has been corrupted by the activities of the Ninja Cops. As I pointed out, corrupt officers are the ones who are not afraid to trample on the rights of innocent people. They sell their souls to the highest bidder and even use their badge, and weapons, to carry out purely terroristic activities during elections.