POSTSCRIPT / August 3, 2017 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Unfair to judge one who’s already dead

IT IS difficult, and most unfair, to judge a man who is dead and therefore unable to give his side. But as Mark Antony orated after the extrajudicial killing of Julius Caesar in 45 BC in Rome, “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”

So let it be with Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog Sr., his wife, his brother, and 12 others who were killed when they allegedly “met with a volley of fire” a police posse that showed up in the dead of night last Sunday with search warrants for unlicensed guns.

Most of us have no direct personal knowledge of the details of the incident — the latest in a series of police drug-related raids that invariably lead to the gunning down of suspects who “fight back” or “resist arrest.” We have only second-hand media stories to go by.

The account of the police involved in the Parojinog operation and whose actions are accorded a presumption of regularity carry more weight. To them, the mission was successful – they bagged 15 targets without their losing a single man.

One dark page in the police report, though, was the ungodly hour (2:30 a.m.) when they served the warrants after disabling the CCTV cameras in the areas – raising suspicion that they wanted to hide something.

The police must also clear the cloud over their overworked claim that the subjects of the warrants were gunned down when they resisted, fought back or grabbed an officer’s sidearm.

Fresh in the public mind is Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte, who was also gunned down in November last year when he allegedly shot it out with policemen serving a search warrant in his detention cell at past midnight.

Like Espinosa, the Parojinogs were among the politicians publicly tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as involved in the narcotics trade.

Following the eerie trend of their drug drive, Philippine National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa warned other officials listed as narco-politicians that their days are numbered.

 Shame ‘em drive or terror tactics?

IT REMAINS to be seen if the Duterte administration’s shift from a shame ‘em campaign to outright terror tactics will work on narco-politicians and the drug lords still wrecking lives out there.

The pivot from the small fry to the big fish, might also help defocus attention from petty pushers and users whose extrajudicial killing by the thousands has drawn sharp criticisms from human rights advocates here and abroad.

Will the public be inclined to gloss over legal shortcuts and police “excesses” if directed at big-time drug traffickers and narco-politicians?

Whatever, the Parojinogs’ supporters and sympathetic neighbors are telling stories that resonate with sectors long railing against EJKs and human rights violations.

The slain mayor’s daughter Nova Princess, who is the vice mayor, insists that they are not into drug trafficking and that the evidence gathered at their residences was planted.

The Parojinogs are by no means lily-white, if police files on their alleged syndicated criminal activities that include drug trafficking were to be believed.

The clan still has to live down its association with the “Kuratong Baleleng” ring – which was created by the military as an anti-communist vigilante group in the 1980s but turned like a Frankenstein’s monster into an organized crime syndicate into the 1990s.

The syndicate’s first leader was Octavio “Ongkoy” Parojinog, the father of Ozamiz Mayor Parojinog who was killed last Sunday. Trained and armed by the military, the group was into bank robbery, kidnapping for ransom, extortion and narcotics in its heyday.

• DoTr main offices moved to Clark

YOU WON’T feel their absence in Metro Manila, particularly on traffic-choked EDSA, but 120 of the 700 or so personnel of the Department of Transportation quietly moved last Friday to their new offices at Clark Freeport in Pampanga to help decongest the national capital.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and key executives from 14 offices are now directing operations from the new DoTr head office at Cybercity in Clark. It was some kind of homecoming for Tugade who was the past president/CEO of Clark Development Corp.

Excluded from the transfer that is expected to be completed by yearend are the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, the bulk of whose clientele are in Metro Manila.

Some of Tugade’s first business meetings in Clark were with representatives of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Toll Regulatory Board and the North Luzon Expressway. He also conferred with Energy Secretary Al Cusi and Rep. Gavini Pancho (2nd Dist., Bulacan).

Internal discussions are ongoing on subsidized housing of employees staying in Metro Manila. Management is providing free shuttle services for workers, implementing options for flexible time and a four-day work week, and access to affordable eateries. Employees who transfer or are detailed to attached agencies will not lose seniority or suffer salary cuts.

During the roll-out of DoTr’s Clark operations last Friday, President Vince Dizon of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority said that his office will start transferring to the Freeport “in a few months’ time”.

There is a long-term plan to move national government offices to Pampanga to help decongest the national capital. The Clark airport which is being upgraded will operate as a twin gateway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. A dedicated express rail line will link it to Manila.

• ‘Postscript’ to be scaled down

FOR PERSONAL reasons, I have asked management to cut the frequency of my POSTSCRIPT column from three to two times a week.

At this juncture, I thank readers who have stuck with me from the old Manila Times, to Daily Express, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and now the Philippine Star.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 3, 2017)

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