On January 2013, thirteen (13) people were killed in an incident in Atimonan, Quezon, allegedly as a result of a legitimate police operation, involving elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).
However, as the PNP's own investigation later revealed, the greater likelihood is that it was "an ambush that was made to appear like a shootout", as "[p]olice investigators had doubts about the positioning of the bodies and firearms" and "it look[ed] as if the bodies and firearms were arranged to make it appear as a shootout."
What gave the incident an even graver twist are the reports that "Supt. Hansel Marantan, the deputy intelligence chief of the Calabarzon police, who was in command of the checkpoint and the operation ... has a sister ... who [allegedly] controls jueteng operations in Calamba, Sta. Rosa, Binan, and San Pedro in Laguna", and that "the killings were [apparently] done to eliminate [alleged jueteng lord Vic] Siman, the bitter rival of Marantan-Dinglasan over control of jueteng operations in the province."
Not only was the AFP suspiciously included in a so-called "legitimate police operations", but it appears that people were murdered in the guise of law enforcement in order to protect the gambling operations of a police officer's relative.
The lower court had already agreed with the findings of the DOJ resulting in the filing of murder charges against those involved, and issued warrants for their arrest in September 2013. Furthermore, the propriety of the filing of charges by the DOJ was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in September 2015.
And yet, here we are today, witnessing the release on bail of the suspects: police officers who appear to have used their position to legitimize killings connected with protecting an illegal gambling operation. I cannot help but wonder what is happening to our criminal justice system? It is truly disturbing that, with a change in administration and a change in the leadership of the police force, we are witnessing, not just current cases of killings attributed to the police being whitewashed as "legitimate operations", but even seeing those who were already investigated and charged in the past receive the same "purifying" treatment.
I am deeply worried about what this means for our nation. We have police officers accused of killing Filipinos in their homes and in the streets with impunity, shamelessly kidnapping and killing foreign nationals inside the PNP Headquarters, and high-ranking officials and fraternity brothers of the President being implicated in a bribery scandal involving illegal gambling.
Are these the public officials and public servants we are supposed to entrust our life, safety and well-being to? Is this what governance and justice is today?
Is it any wonder that people's perception of right and wrong; of what is just and unjust; and of who is innocent and who is guilty has been so distorted that they can no longer tell the truth from the lies?
As I sit here in my detention cell here in the PNP Custodial Center, I cannot help but feel even greater pity for my fellow Filipinos. I may be the one whose physical freedom is being limited; but it is the Filipino's fundamental rights to life, liberty and security that is truly under attack. I long for the day when we are free of the tyranny of this culture of lies and impunity.
Source: Senate of the Philippines