You can run, and
you can hide?
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
Today’s two most prominent fugitives from the law include retired Major General and party list congressman Jovito Palparan who was charged in connection with the disappearance of two activists six years ago, and former governor of Palawan, Joel Reyes, who is the subject of an arrest warrant for the murder of environmentalist-broadcaster Gerry Ortega on January 24, 2011. These high profile and well connected suspects have been the subject of unsuccessful manhunts that are fast becoming a source of embarrassment for the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
What makes it important for the government to exert more effort in the capture of these fugitives is that one is a retired general and sitting congressman, and the other is a former governor. Yet, both have refused to submit themselves to the law that they have at one point in their lives sworn to defend, and have become the most glaring examples of how the culture of impunity that they apparently subscribe to remains one of the biggest threats to our peaceful existence.
Probably inspired by the exploits of Senator Panfilo Lacson who has proven than one can flee Filipino authorities indefinitely, Congressman Palparan and ex-governor Reyes have chosen to become fugitives as well. If Ping Lacson can do it, they probably believe that they have the resources and connections to do the same. Here in Negros, we have Barangay Captain Noel Ayalin, who massacred four barangay officials in Kapitan Ramon, Silay City last year; who has successfully evaded the authorities since fleeing the scene of the crime. After seeing what a mere barangay chief has achieved so far, the PNP and the AFP shouldn’t begrudge the public when they say that Palparan and Reyes shouldn’t have too much difficulty in their fugitive lifestyle.
We don’t know if the problem is the government’s lack of capability or lack of resolve to capture these high profile fugitives that allows them to mock the justice system that the rest of us are supposed to submit to. But it cannot be healthy for the justice system and the agents of the law if the fugitive congressman, ex-governor and barangay captain are allowed to roam free despite being charged with serious crimes.*