Cebu mayor to police: Kill a criminal, get P50,000
CEBU CITY — Mayor Tomas Osmeña is reviving his controversial program that provides P50,000 to city policemen for every criminal killed while performing their law enforcement duty.
But the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Central Visayas cautioned Osmeña that his plan might lead to abuses.
In a news conference on Monday, Osmeña said the amount, which policemen would receive for every slain criminal, was not a reward but financial assistance to law enforcers who might face a string of cases.
He said some policemen were afraid to go after and shoot criminals, even in the line of duty, because they did not have the means to defend themselves should cases be filed against them.
‘Peace of mind’
The cash assistance, Osmeña said, would provide “peace of mind” to the police.
Osmeña maintained that his program would not promote violence. “Promote violence? What kind of twisted logic is that? Why don’t we disarm all the policemen? When policemen carry firearms, you might be promoting violence, right?” he said.
The money will be taken from the city’s discretionary fund which amounts to P7.4 million this year and P7.8 million next year.
Osmeña said he could also use his own money to grant financial assistance to the police.
But lawyer Arvin Odron, CHR regional director, said the mayor’s plan might lead to human rights abuses in the long run.
“CHR assures everybody of its continuous monitoring of the government’s compliance with human rights norms and standards pursuant to its treaty commitments,” he added.
Osmeña said providing cash assistance to policemen who neutralized a criminal was his original idea, which he implemented even before President Duterte assumed office.
“No, Mr. Duterte is following me. I gave P50,000 even before Mr. Duterte was sworn into office. Well, I can claim that he was following me. I really don’t like to put it that way but just to make it clear, ako ang nag-una (I did it first),” he said.
In 2004, Osmeña created the so-called Hunters’ Team, a group of elite policemen tasked to go after known criminals.
From 2004 to August 2006, at least 168 suspected or convicted criminals were reported to have been shot dead by motorcycle-riding men in vigilante-style killings linked to what was widely believed as a death squad operating in Cebu City.
It was stopped in late 2006 when Metro Cebu was preparing to host the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.
Shortly after being elected mayor again in May 2016, Osmeña announced that he would give financial assistance to policemen who could kill criminals, particularly those involved in illegal drugs.
Osmeña had released a total of P625,000 in assistance to policemen.
Among those who received the money were police officers who killed Cebu’s top drug lord, Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, and his bodyguard in Las Piñas City on June 17 last year; and Rowen “Yawa” Secretaria, the third most wanted drug lord in Central Visayas.
But Osmeña withdrew his offer of cash assistance in July 2016 after the Philippine National Police decided to reshuffle its police officers, including former Cebu City police director Benjamin Santos.
The National Police Commission (Napolcom) in August last year stripped Osmeña of his power and supervision over the local police, citing the mayor’s lack of support for the city police.
Osmeña regained his supervisory powers over the city police after the Napolcom granted his request in September last year.
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