Nalzaro: Provide cops with lawyers, not cash

Bobby G. Nalzaro

THE plan of the “former political has-been” to give cash assistance for legal purposes to any policeman who kills suspected criminals in line of duty has raised concerns among opposition councilors and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) 7. The “former political has-been” said that the P50,000 he would give is not an incentive but is a financial assistance because the law enforcer involved might face charges from the victim’s relatives. He said he is doing this to neutralize criminals. The amount will be taken from his discretionary fund.

But opposition councilors said this might encourage the police to kill even innocent people and then tag them as criminals. The CHR said the move may lead to human rights abuses by law enforcers and reminded them to always observe the rule of law and adhere to the rules of engagement during legitimate operations.

Who wants to kill people? The police are usually forced to shoot only if their lives are threatened and if there is a clear and present danger during operations. Yes, there are rules of engagement to follow. But during actual operation, it is anything goes. Dili man gud na sine nga scripted. Criminals are willing to kill or die once they are cornered. Do we prefer our policemen to die and the criminals to live e because of respect for human rights?

Take the cases of retired SPO4 Serafin Asingjo and Inspector Jethro Regudo years ago. They killed an alleged notorious robber during a hot pursuit operation. (I will not mention his name because the parents filed a multi-million libel suit against me because I sided with the police). Asingo and Regudo chased the suspect but he shoot it out with the lawmen. He died. The parents filed a case against them. The policemen were not provided with legal assistance by their organization. Good that a lawyer defended them pro-bono. They were acquitted.

Facing criminal and administrative charges in line of their duty has always been the problem of some law enforcers. This is because the organization cannot provide them with legal support. They have to shell out their personal money to hire private lawyer. And you know the high rate of attorney’s fees nowadays, especially for the topnotch lawyers.

If the cash reward or financial assistance offered by the “former political has-been” is intended as legal assistance to the concerned policeman, then I will support his plan. This only shows that he is concerned with the plight of our police once they face charges.

But my unsolicited advise is that instead of cash, why don’t the city government hire a private lawyer to defend the concerned policeman? The money should be given to the lawyer and not to the police. But the question is whether the P50,000 is enough to defray the expenses during litigation? Duna kahay modawat ana nga abogado?

Or why won’t the city government hire a “pool of lawyers” and task them to assist policemen facing charges in line of their official duty? There are many legal consultants at City Hall doing nothing. Why won’t the city utilize them for this purpose? This would refute the view of critics that the money offered by the “former political has-been” will encourage the police to kill because they are after the reward.