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'I am what Dongkoy is not'
By Elson T. Elizaga

In July 2013, I celebrated the result of the election by writing in Facebook: “Today our new mayor Oscar Moreno reports for work, and I'm mighty happy. His reply to numerous questions about how he would manage the city is simple: Apply the law. Not more law for those who have less in life, but law for all of us. On May 13 I stood for two and a half hours waiting to vote in a school in barangay Gusa. A faint line of indelible ink is still visible in the nail of my forefinger. Just two and a half hours and 15 years of dictatorship is over ….”

Oscar Moreno waves to supporters after taking oath at divisoria, Cagayan de Oro
Oscar Moreno after taking oath. On a chair is former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

But days after the extra-judicial killing of suspected robbers in Adela Subdivision, I felt I was mistaken. As reported in another newspaper, one of the shooters, wearing a helmet and riding on a motor bike, shot one of the suspects. The shooter turned around, found the suspect still alive, and finished him off. Witnesses said, “He pointed his gun, as the suspect raised his hand, probably pleading for life.” ["Police foil robbery ...", Sunstar, Jul. 5, 2013]

Extra-judicial killing -- also called summary execution or "salvaging" -- in Cagayan de Oro is a practice during the administration of former “mayor” Vicente Y. Emano. It started with a street parade of suspects, an exhibit strongly criticized by Herbie Gomez, editor of Goldstar Daily. Days later, the killings began. Assassins shot 22 people from November 2001 to July 2002 alone. Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. expressed disturbance about this development, which became a norm for 15 years and turned Cagayan de Oro into the salvaging factory of Northern Mindanao.

One of the victims in September 2013 has no criminal record: Ronnie Potot, 35, of barangay Camamanan.

For 15 years, police claimed failure to identify the killers, but in July 2013, for the first time, police director Graciano Mijares, bless him for his candor, admitted that the killers, which fit the typical description of “vigilantes”, were plain-clothes policemen. ["Police foil robbery ..."]

This practice is against the law. And it continues after Oscar Moreno’s inauguration in a historically important spot in divisoria, where he and other officials pledged to uphold the law before former senator Pimentel, the same person who had criticized the mass murder.

Regardless of the reputation of the victims, whether or not they have police records, or are friends of the police, the fact remains summary execution is against the law. But Oscar Moreno praised the police nevertheless and has not called for an investigation.

Of course, many residents in Cagayan de Oro support extra-judicial killing. We feel safe in knowing the government is regularly frying the small fish to divert our attention from the large syndicates, some operating in government. Whenever I express my objection to extra-judicial killing in social media, I would get rhetorical questions: Do you know that in Davao City -- the extra-judicial killing capital of the Philippines -- you can flaunt your iPad anywhere without fear of being robbed? What would you do if you find your children and your wife killed in your house? Why do you support human rights? Are you a relative of criminals?

These responses made me recall a visit my friends and I made to a computer trade fair years ago. We were looking at a teeny-weeny printer, and I very much noticed how drudgingly slow it was. I was afraid it would finish one page only after the second coming of Christ. So, I asked the pretty sales lady: “How fast is it?”

Her reply was earth-shaking: “It’s very quiet.”

This logical fallacy is called “red herring”, a device used to distract one from the issue.

Q: Is it right for the mayor to change a council document?
A: The council is independent.
Q: Did the mayor call for a public bidding for the repainting of City Hall?
A: Emano’s multi-million projects were not submitted for public bidding.
Q: Is Park Café illegally occupying divisoria?
A: The divisoria is clean.

Is extra-judicial killing illegal? Is it murder? Is it right? These are the issues and these issues are not related to the iPhone.

Nits Arancon once asked Oscar Moreno why people should vote for him. He said I am what Dongkoy is not. I’m his opposite.

Or words to that effect. End



Copyright © 2013 Elson T. Elizaga. Published September 17, 2013. Expanded September 20, 2013. Link about Moreno and NBI added Oct. 2, 2013.


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