There’s no culture of impunity, Malacañang insists. This may be hard to believe following the assassination of two mayors within hours of each other. The attack on Tanauan City mayor Antonio Halili was particularly brazen, with a sniper picking him off from a distance as the mayor sang the National Anthem during the Monday morning flag ceremony at the city hall grounds.
Impunity has prevailed for such a long time in many aspects of life in this country, from breaking traffic rules and city ordinances to the commission of heinous crimes such as murder. So many media workers have been killed in the past decades, with an abysmal solution rate, that the Philippines has consistently ranked among the five worst countries in the Impunity Index on journalist killings.
If there’s an Impunity Index on lethal attacks on local officials, the country could also become a candidate – unless the killings are solved. Solution means the arrested suspect, whether gunman or mastermind, is the guilty one and not just a fall guy. Solution also means the successful prosecution of the killer or killers, with a final court ruling rendering appropriate punishment. This is the only time that justice is done and impunity is curbed.
As of yesterday, probers said they were looking at a ranking military officer with whom Halili had an altercation as a possible suspect. Perhaps the pressure for a solution might give justice to Halili. President Duterte has accused Halili of involvement in the illegal drug trade. Again, the solution of Halili’s murder could show if the President is correct.
Failure to solve the two murders will guarantee more attacks on other local government executives. With the midterm elections approaching, the reigning impunity could mean even more deadly violence in settling political rivalries. This penchant for murder must be decisively crushed.
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