A police official’s retort to the question why a complaint for murder and not homicide was filed against a Manila police officer for the fatal shooting of a Quezon City traffic enforcer raised a lot of eyebrows during a press conference.

“We have filed a murder case because we do not see any justification in what he did,” the official told reporters who half-expected him to say the crime was attended by premeditation and some other elements of murder.

Killing “without any justifying circumstance” is, of course, one of the elements of homicide and not necessarily of murder in the Philippines, law students or even reporters who’ve covered the police beat long enough should know.

While both homicide and murder result in the death of someone, the police may have gunned for the graver offense of murder based on such qualifying circumstances as treachery and taking advantage of superior strength.

Police reports, indeed, may seem to support a complaint for murder if it’s true that the cop just shot the victim in the chest and arm on the mere suspicion that he was stealing a motorcycle.

That’s treachery under any book, especially when carried out by the accused using a gun against an unarmed victim who was not even given the chance to explain or be arrested.

The irony of this incident is that the motorcycle, according to the police reports, belonged to a friend of the traffic enforcer. The two were purportedly just pushing the broken bike when confronted by the policeman.

Why was the Manila cop operating in Quezon City, in the first place, even considering the national character of the Philippine National Police?

While any policeman can respond to a crime being committed in his presence, even one outside his area of assignment, it raises questions whenever a cop does that — especially when the purported crime being committed was stealing a motorcycle with the suspicion anchored only on the vehicle being pushed by two men.

It’s an altogether different matter when a policeman, even one who is off duty, chances upon a man being stabbed or being robbed of his belongings. Those are actions that would reasonably lead someone to conclude that crimes are being committed. But pushing a motorcycle?

Scary, really, knowing that there are trigger-happy policemen out there who, instead of being public protectors, are inclined to throw out all the rules on when the police can legally use lethal force. The police rules of engagement, in this particular case, have been clearly thrown asunder.

There’s one thing, though, that the accused policeman, did right: That’s to refuse to answer questions from journalists by saying he’d let his lawyer talk for him in due time.

This policeman was clearly cognizant of his constitutional rights, including the right to remain silent and to be presumed innocent over an imputation of a criminal offense.

Sadly, the traffic enforcer would never get to exercise those same rights now being exercised to the hilt by the accused. It’s now up to prosecutors to give justice to a man forever silenced on the mere suspicion of him stealing a motorcycle.

Granting for the sake of argument that a motorcycle was being stolen, that should not rise to the level necessitating the use by any policeman of his gun when there’s no apparent threat to his or any other person’s life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *