Refuge

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    A HIGH-PROFILE case of pilfered and recycled drugs by PNP officers in Pampanga was certainly worth our while and that of the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice committees, as well as of the major TV and radio networks and, introduced new “stars’ in the continuing saga of corruption in the national police force. Three retired generals pointing accusing fingers at the PNP chief for protecting and condoning the ninja cops took the spotlight away from some grandstanding senators. Certainly, there are others like Maj. Roney Baloyo and the 12 wayward officers who must be exposed and arrested.

    One time, during the joint committee hearings, Blue Ribbon chair Sen. Richard Gordon mentioned about receiving numerous reports of other ninja cops. While a major revamp of the PNP ordered by President Duterte has taken off, the Senate may want to refocus on the families of thousands of victims of EJKs. It had to take the joint committees on justice and human rights a series of intensive public hearings for two months and to submit their report and recommendations to the Department of Justice before the killers of Delos Santos were brought to justice.

    Since then, the EJKs have resumed almost with a vengeance, the rampant killings egged on by the President who very recently ordered the very notorious Lt. Col. Jovy Espenido “to kill everybody in Bacolod” to get rid of the drug problem there.. Espenido is now the PNP deputy chief for operations in the province.

    With the PNP Internal Affairs Office bogged down with 70% unresolved cases, including complaints of grieving families against drug operatives tagged in EJKs, the Senate seems to be the last succor and refuge for the harassed and intimidated loved ones of 20,000 murdered openly in our streets. Any semblance of independence of the IAS is lost with the intervention of the PNP chief who reviews and approves all the findings before they are filed with the NAPOLCOM for the proper action or penalties.

    Witnesses should immediately be screened to qualify for the Witness Protection Program (WPP). Malacanang wil likely stand in the way of a burdened and underfunded WPP swamped with thousands of applicants for state protection from government forces who cared nothing about the victims of EJKs.

    Gordon and Se. Ping Lacson, chair of the Senate Committee on Justice, should realize that the cases have assumed more than the stereotyped high profile ingrained in the media but have fed on a national and international advocacy due to the large number of victims brutally wiped out from the face of the earth. The present Senate cannot just wash its hands from further helping dispense justice while the PNP and the Department of Justice remain practically hogtied by the President from doing anything else to probe and prosecute salvagers in uniforms.

    The Senate should seriously consider opening its counterpart of the WPP to ensure genuine protection for a significant number of witnesses especially in EJKs since the current WPP which is under the Department of Justice can no longer be trusted.

    ***

    The late Nene Pimentel compares with none in the political mainstream and government circle today, a rare gem that seemed to light the path of this troubled nation and extinguishes the fiery odds that threatened to overwhelm him and his convictions. Even the darkest moments in his life failed to dampen the triumph of his struggles.

    He was among the poorest in the Senate but Nene’s life glittered like gold. His passing diminishes us all, who still crave for the democratic ideals that continue to elude our people and, for our cherished freedoms that he was ready to die for. (I had looked forward to co-hosting a weekly program with Tatay Nene while I was still with DZRH; those would have been precious moments with a true patriot whose legacy, I am sure, will long endure.)