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This is no ordinary crime

SURELY the most dismaying news report last week was that of the killing of a woman crusader against crime in Oriental Mindoro. Zenaida Luz was standing in front of her house Sunday night waiting for someone who had called to ask for her help, when two men riding in tandem shot and killed her.

A police mobile team went after the killers who traded shots with their pursuers, then surrendered as they were wounded. To the mobile policemen’s great surprise, the two men they were pursing turned out to be police officials themselves. One was wearing a mask and a wig; the other had a bonnet and a hooded jacket.

Inevitably, the incident has been connected to the thousands of killings in the last few weeks all over the country.

Many of the 3,700 killed so far were said to have been shot for resisting arrest in the ongoing anti-drugs campaign.

Some were believed killed by rival gangs. Many were simply found dead on the streets – killers unknown. Luz would have been one of those found dead in her street, killers unknown, if not for the swift action of the mobile police.

The suspects were not ordinary policemen. One was the police chief of the next town; the other was a member of the province’s Police Public Safety Company. They were among those leading the ongoing anti-crime campaign of the new administration. And Luz was the regional chairman of the anti-crime group Citizens Crime Watch. They were supposed to be allies in the war on crime.

The police investigation will have to go beyond the killing of one woman. It will have to look into why two high-ranking police officials seem to have gotten so deeply involved in some illegal operation, that it called for them to do the killing themselves.

The next question is: Is this an isolated case or are there many other police officials in other towns and cities who are in the kind of activities that could involve killing an anti-crime crusader in cold blood? President Duterte himself has called for action against what he called “ninja cops” who are in the drug trade, even offering reward money to informants. Could the Oriental Mindoro killing somehow be related to this campaign?

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa stressed the urgency and need for the “ninja cops” campaign when he asked: “Pulis ka… ikaw ang magbenta?” We are certain he realizes that policemen killing Zenaida Luz on the street in front of her home in Gloria, Oriental Mindoro, is so much more atrocious than selling drugs, that the case deserves the utmost attention and action of the PNP and the administration.