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Then there is the very complex issue of vigilantes perpetuating the killings. There is absolutely no moral justification for these dastardly acts. Public authorities must literally move heaven and earth to catch and bring these murderers to justice. It would bolster the legitimacy of the campaign against the drug menace if the President and the appropriate public authorities can quickly resolve just one unexplained killing to demonstrate their resolve to prevent more of these crimes against humanity. I would highly recommend that they focus on what was the subject of an editorial in this paper last October 20, 2016. Entitled “This is no ordinary crime”, the editorial made reference to the case of a woman crusader against crime in Oriental Mindoro, Zenaida Luz. I am quite close to the facts of this case because Zenaida Luz belonged to the anti-crime group Citizens Crime Watch headed by my brother, Atty. Jose Malvar Villegas who has devoted practically all his professional life fighting for the welfare of the needy and the abused. My brother Joe is very familiar with the circumstances of this shocking criminal act.
He had just invited Zenaida Luz to talk in a conference on public security before the attack. Just a few days later, Zenaida Luz was standing in front of her house waiting for someone who had called to ask for help, when two men riding in tandem shot and killed her. Showing the good side of our peacekeepers, a police mobile team went after the killers who in turn traded shots with their pursuers. Cornered and wounded, the murderers surrendered. To the shock of the mobile policemen, the two men they were pursuing turned out to be police officials themselves. One was wearing a mask and a wig; the other had a bonnet and a hooded jacket. The suspects were not ordinary policemen. One was the police chief of the next town; the other was a member of the province’s Police Public Safety Company. The irony of the case is that the two apprehended officials were among those leading the ongoing anti-crime campaign of the Duterte administration while the woman they killed was the regional chairman of the anti-crime group headed by my brother. They were supposed to be allies in the war on crime! One of them was even recently honored as an outstanding police commissioned officer by no less than PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa during a ceremony in Calapan.
As the Manila Bulletin editorial read: “The police investigation will have to go beyond the killing of one woman. It will have to look into why two high-ranking police officials seems to have gotten so deeply involved in in some illegal operation, that it called for them to do the killing themselves. The next question is: Is this an isolated case or are there many other police officials in other towns and cities who are in the kind of activities that could involve killing an anti-crime crusader in cold blood? President Duterte himself has called for action against what he called ‘ninja cops’ who are in the drug trade, even offering reward money to informants. Could the Oriental Mindoro killing somehow be related to this campaign?” I hope that the President and PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa have been giving special attention to this case and are making sure that those two officials who have been caught redhanded are immediately brought to justice. This way the public will be given the assurance that the other unexplained deaths—many of them involving poor people who do not have the high profile of Zenaida Luz—will sooner than later be subjected to the same legal scrutiny. Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno recently declared that there should be no police abuse or brutality in the war on drugs. He especially made it clear that there should be no “vendetta” killings. Only then can we be given the assurance that we have a government that is committed to protecting the sacredness of life. For comments, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.