AS the country’s premier law enforcement agency, the 190,000-member Philippine National Police (PNP) views the killing of local chief executives (LCEs), like town mayors, as a major concern.
Solving these cases is part of the agency’s effort to give justice to all, whether a murdered LCE was involved in illegal drug activities or not, according to PNP chief Director-General Oscar D. Albayalde.
“A murder is a murder,” said Albayalde after the filing of criminal charges against the suspected killers of Trece Martirez City Vice Mayor Alexander Lubigan and his driver Romulo Gillemer last July 7.
The strict but fair top “Mamang Pulis” assured the public that the police agency, which is civilian in nature but national in scope, “won’t stop unless justice is served to the victims and their families.”
But Albayalde was quick to declare that there’s no reason to say that the spate of killings of local government officials in this impoverished country is alarming although “we should be concerned.”
This prompted the hard-hitting PNP chief to create the National Investigation Task Group (NITG), which is tasked to closely monitor the progress of ongoing investigation into all LCE killings.
Albayalde ordered Director Elmo Francis O. Sarona of the PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) to constitute and head the elite task group.
Various quarters described the setting up of the NITG as timely since the seven-day filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for next year’s fully-automated local elections starts on October 11.
Note that in the Philippines, records show that local polls are bloodier than national elections. “Kasi maraming kandidato ang magkakamag-anak, magka-kapitbahay at magkakaibigan,” said a political analyst.
In fact, police investigations have clearly showed that some of the LCE killings were triggered by heated political rivalries associated with the forthcoming off-season balloting on May 13, 2019.
That’s why the PNP leadership deserves the support of all sectors of society as it exerts efforts to ensure the holding of clean, honest, credible and orderly elections next year.