CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 June 2019

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No state law only Duterte law

HONG KONG (SE): “It is now Duterte’s administration. There’s no need for papers,” a police officer in Talisay City, Cebu, was overheard saying on September 11 when asked to show a warrant after bursting into a private home and beginning a room search.

The house belongs to Isabella Abangan, the mother of human rights advocate, Orlando Abangan, who was shot in several parts of the body by an unidentified gunman and died on the road on September 17.

Abangan had founded a group in May this year to campaign for social protection and social services for people with disabilities and was the full time organiser of the group.

On the day he died, the 35-year-old had been to a meeting at Barangay Tangke, a fishing village in Sitio Isla Verde, Cebu. Two people at the meeting told the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission they had seen two armed men on a motorbike sitting outside the house during the meeting.

They then saw them ride away. But when Abangan was leaving the house as the meeting was breaking up, the men said there were six gunmen on three motorbikes outside the house.

One of them got off his bike and when he saw Abangan he pulled his gun, looked around and then left the scene. Abangan then left to go home on his motorbike, but was shot by unidentified men along the way. His body was brought to his mother’s house around 8.00am.

On the previous day, Abangan had been to the police station and demanded the release of his nephew, who was being held on a charge of possessing a .45 calibre pistol and drugs.

On the day the nephew was arrested, six police had barged into the house in the middle of the night and one of them, Edwin Campomanes, went into the nephew’s room to search it.

The nephew was forced to go to the police station with Campomanes after he claimed he had seen a .45 pistol in the room.

That was the day Isabella Abangan overheard Campomanes say that under the rule of the current president, Rodrigo Duterte, warrants are no longer necessary.

However, two days later, Isabella Abangan secured documents from the police showing two charges listed against the nephew and,  apart from one under Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Act, another had been added  under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

Abangan had later demanded his nephew’s release, because the police refused to show him the station blotter, which he interpreted as meaning that Campomanes did not have a warrant to enter the house, conduct a search or take his nephew away.

When Abangan’s body was brought back to the house, the police brought the nephew home and conducted a thorough search of his room to look for the gun that Campomanes said he had seen, but found nothing.

In a cruel quirk of fate, on the following day the bullet-riddled body of the human rights advocate, who had been a strong critic of the ongoing extrajudicial murders that have been a regular part of the scene in The Philippines for decades, lay in testimony to the evil of the crime he had spent his life fighting against.

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