Police chief rejects offer by Cebu ‘vigilantes’ to kill drug pushers
CEBU CITY– Are vigilantes starting to operate in Cebu?
Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), on Monday said he received a text message from a group who volunteered to help the police kill those into illegal drugs.
The group didn’t identify themselves.
“They want to take the law into their own hands because they could no longer stand the presence of people who continue to peddle or use illegal drugs. But no. I won’t allow nor encourage summary executions because that’s against the law,” he told reporters.
“I told them to give me all the information about the persons who are still into drugs and we will let the police do their thing. Maintaining peace and order is the primary work of the police,” he added.
Taliño received the text message from what he considered a vigilante group last July 21.
Since then, at least three suspected drug users and a pusher were gunned down by unidentified persons in different areas in Cebu.
Two persons—Roldan Cuizon, 30, and Wilson Cuizon, 23 — were shot dead by unknown assailants while purportedly having a pot session in Barangay Buaya, Lapu-Lapu City, last July 22.
On the same day, Bonie “Sadam” Ponce, an alleged drug pusher in Danao City, was gunned down by two unidentified men on board a motorcycle. The victim was left dead with a written note that says “Pusher ako, wag ninyo tularan.” (I am a pusher. Do not emulate me.)
On Monday, Alex Reyes, an alleged drug user and robber in Barangay Punta Princesa, Cebu City, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman.
Taliño said he could not conclude whether or not these four individuals fell prey to vigilantes.
“All we can say is that these persons were linked to illegal drugs, and we don’t know who killed them,” he said.
While policemen were given by President Rodrigo Duterte three to six months to address the spread of illegal drugs, Taliño said it should be done in the legal way.
Vigilantism is never an option, according to Taliño.
“Killing defenseless people is tantamount to summary execution—a violation of human rights. While policemen have killed a number of suspected criminals, they were considered legitimate because these people tried to kill our troops,” said the former Special Action Force chief.
Since July 22, in a span of three days, police killed at least 10 suspected drug pushers in Central Visayas. Two others were wounded.
Taliño said PRO-7 recently received a total of P300,000 from a private group that wanted to assist policemen in their campaign against illegal drugs.
He said he decided to give the amount to police units who could kill suspected drug peddlers.
“We have yet to discuss about the mechanics of the reward system but probably P10,000 per dead pusher will do because for the time being, the amount we received is not that big,” he said.
Taliño said the private group who volunteered to extend financial assistance to the police was composed of businessmen and a politician who requested anonymity for security purposes.
He believed the support from the private group has given the police a huge lift especially after Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña decided to withdraw his support to the police.
Osmeña earlier dangled a P50,000-reward for every dead crime suspect and P5,000 each for those wounded as part of his campaign against criminality
But last July 14, the mayor announced that he would no longer give cash incentives to the police and would step aside in the anti-crime and anti-drugs campaign since he didn’t agree with the reshuffle of police officers that included his two favorites: former PRO-7 Director Patrocinio Comendador and Cebu City Police Office Director Benjamin Santos. SFM
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.