CEBU CITY—PDP-Laban stalwart Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella has opposed the plan of Mayor Tomas Osmeña to give P50,000 to policemen who kill criminals in the ongoing war against illegal drugs.
“This pronouncement from the honorable mayor, for me, pursues a cultivation of an environment where order is attained not through the means enshrined in our legal institutions but through impunity and disregard for the sanctity of life,” Labella said.
Labella, who took his oath as member of the administration party last Nov. 17, delivered a privileged speech on the issue during the Cebu City Council session last week.
Labella is the highest elected official of Team Rama—Osmeña’s political rivals in the last elections—to take an oath as a PDP-Laban member before House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in a 50,000-strong assembly organized by Presidential Assistant Mike Dino.
Team Rama’s leader, former mayor Mike Rama, could not join Labella and other members in pledging allegiance to the administration party after President Rodrigo Duterte himself identified Rama as a drug lord protector.
On Dec. 12, Osmeña announced his plan to give P50,000 financial assistance to policemen who kill criminals while doing their jobs after Duterte brought back the Philippine National Police into the war on illegal drugs.
The President’s drugs war has met criticism from various sectors here and abroad, especially human rights groups and remnants of the Liberal Party, the political opposition.
“Suit or no suit, there will always be legal and other expenses, and I want the police to know that the city government will always have their back,” Osmeña said.
Fellow members of the opposition, like Councilors Raymond Garcia and Joel Garganera, said providing policemen with lawyers would be a better idea.
But Osmeña stressed on helping the police financially in their anti-drug campaign.
“Believe it or not,” he said, “shooting a person is a life-changing experience, and the vast majority of policemen—especially Cebuano policemen—are not blood-thirsty killers. Police who end up having to perform the tragic side of their duty deserve support, and support is what we will give them.”
In a related development, Commission on Human Rights director Arvin Odron also expressed apprehension the “anti-drug war reward” dangled by Osmeña might lead to violations of human rights.