Catholic Church News

OCCASIONAL “MISENCOUNTERS”


By: Bishop Pablo Virgilio David

 

Every now and then, something embarrassing happens in the war against drugs. It turns out that it’s the police against the police; the police not knowing it’s their fellow men in uniform they are pursuing. These incidents happen by sheer accident; they are taken by surprise when the disclosure happens. I am inclined to think that this is precisely the reason why they’d rather not pursue the masked killers who target the same “drug suspects”. They might end up getting reprimanded for “getting in the way”. In such “unfortunate” instances, the uniformed operators have every right to complain to their higher ups that the “intervention” was unintended, that it had been caused by a sheer “lack of coordination”. They’d be called “misencounters” caused by some glitches in communication. I imagine the exasperation on the part of the more decent, or—to be more exact with the vocabulary—the more naive elements among the police.

(See also https://www.google.com.ph/…/2-cops-kill-anticrime-crusa…/amp. Note how these officers are reinstated later on: https://www.google.com.ph/…/2-mindoro-cops-in-slay-of-c…/amp.) 

Need we belabor the point that there are abusive men in uniform who have been taking advantage of the government’s war against illegal drugs? Their sense of impunity gets a further boost each time they get an assurance from the higher ups that, in their operations against illegal drugs, they will be given a guarantee of protection from whatever charges might be filed against them. Who will people run to when their rights are trampled upon by the very people who should be protecting them? Who will they turn to when the supposed law enforcers turn out to be law breakers?

It’s amusing that a warrant of arrest is now being revived by a court against supposed leftist leaders for command responsibility behind a killing that happened more than a decade ago, while no such arrest warrants are being served against police chiefs for command responsibility behind the countless killings being regularly committed against alleged drug suspects.

Now they’re also arresting media practitioners for covering the violent dispersal at the picket of striking NutriAsia workers last Monday afternoon, July 30. A few days ago, the chaplain of one of our mission stations saw nine men being arrested without warrants. This has become a common practice especially in the slum communities where people are unaware of their human rights. Good thing if all of them are brought immediately to the police station. In several instances, big groups between ten to twenty have been rounded up. In one instance, of fifteen people arrested, eleven were brought to the police station and the rest “went missing”. Of course, they’d declare that only eleven (not fifteen) were arrested. The missing ones are lucky if they are allowed to surface after a few days—their dead bodies mutilated, bearing unspeakable torture marks.

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