Vigilante justice


The savagery in the manner he was killed was almost a copycat of the way murder victims attributed to his gang was carried out: multiple wounds against a defenseless target. Emmanuel Roquero was shot no less than 23 times with his hands handcuffed in a dark portion near the old airport site in Mandurriao, Iloilo Cityseveral nights ago in what is widely believed to be the handiwork of a vigilante group.

Apparently, Roquero’s murder was intended to deliver a strong message — violent serial crimes will not be regarded kindly with kids’ gloves. For so long, the TBS 13 (which stands for True Brown Style), killed taxi drivers with impunity. This time, the rule of law will have to give way to vigilante justice, or so the killers of Roquero seemed to be saying.

What is frightening is that the brutal killing of Roquero received a thunderous applause from the public. The “it serves him right” mentality seems to have pervaded over the city. So many felt it was a justified action in the face of the seeming helplessness of the pollice in putting a stop to the spate of taxi murders blamed upon the TBS gang. This kind of public reaction might encourage whoever was responsible to do it again.

We have to warn the community that vigilante justice might seem attractive in the short term. People want revenge, and this is what vigilantes serve upon perceived criminals. But we have to remember we live under a rule of law. There are basic rights that were trampled upon. Killing a murder suspect can never be right. A crime to stop a criminal is wrong. There is real danger this will trigger a vicious cycle of violence. Certain groups will feel tempted to abrogate the role of crime-busters and target individuals labeled as criminals. Who will guarantee that innocent people will not fall victim to the vigilantes? Do we really want the city to be littered with dead bodies?

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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