Pimentel berates Bato: Where’s peace, order?
“Where is the peace and order that [Philippine National Police Director General Ronald] dela Rosa says the people are ungrateful for?” Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III demanded to know on Thursday, two days after motorcycle-riding gunmen shot dead a councilor and the local official’s teenage son in Oriental Mindoro province.
The killings of Puerto Galera Councilor Melchor Arago and his 15-year-old son, Kenneth, came two days after Dela Rosa called critics of unlawful killings in President Duterte’s brutal war on drugs “ingrates.”
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday after the Catholic Church disclosed that police officers who had carried out unlawful killings in the campaign against drugs had asked for Church protection to be able to tell all, Dela Rosa claimed even the critics of the killings benefited from the peace and order brought about by the crackdown on illegal drugs.
But Pimentel, Mr. Duterte’s right-hand man in the Senate, said the killings of the Aragos were “yet another murder” carried out by motorcycle-riding gunmen, in a “now [familiar] modus operandi.”
More than 2,000 people have died in such drive-by shootings, which have terrorized the slums of Metro Manila where the victims are mostly small-time drug users.
Fed up with the killings, Pimentel told the PNP to “shape up.”
“Criminals are … emboldened by what they see as the incompetence of the PNP in catching them,” he said in a statement.
Pimentel said Arago, 52, was in his car parked in front of his house in Barangay Tabinay, Puerto Galera, on Tuesday when two motorcycle-riding men drove up to the vehicle and shot him through the window.
Just then, the boy Kenneth came out of the house and the gunmen shot him, too.
Police arrested two men on Wednesday, after a witness identified them as the killers of the Aragos.
The suspects—Tirso Tito, 39, and Rogelio Sto. Tomas, 47, both from Lipa City, Batangas province—were arrested at a checkpoint in Barangay Poblacion, in San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro, said Supt. Imelda Tolentino, spokesperson for the Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) police.
Tito and Sto. Tomas were positively identified by the witness, a scavenger who was looking for discarded bottles and scrap metal in front of the Arago residence when the attack happened.
Oriental Mindoro Vice Gov. Humerlito Dolor said the provincial board would conduct a separate investigation into the killings.
The PNP claims a downtrend in crime incidents, saying the “total crime volume” went down by 7 percent nationwide from January to August this year as a result of the war on drugs.
But Dela Rosa has expressed alarm at a surge in killings carried out by motorcycle-riding gunmen.
Speaking in a radio interview on Thursday, the PNP chief said he had ordered all regional police directors to solve murder cases involving motorcycle-riding gunmen or be sacked.
“If you (regional police directors) do not solve those cases, the public will think that the police are tolerating them because they also want the victims dead,” Dela Rosa said, recalling his instruction to the regional police chiefs during a command conference at PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, on Wednesday.
Pimentel, citing information from the PNP, said in his statement that there had been 6,225 drug-related killings from July 2016 to September 2017.
Of those deaths, he said, 3,850 were killings during police operations, while 2,990 were cases under investigation—or unsolved killings.
Pimentel said the large number of unsolved killings was “unacceptable.”
“One homicide is one unnecessary death too many. Add the large number of unsolved killings, made worse by some of the victims being minors, and you start wondering what the police are there for,” he said.