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Of Shootouts, Catfights, And Vigilante Justice

March 12, 2009

edsa-shootout-montage1Wikipedia defines catfight as “an altercation between two women, typically involving scratching, hair-pulling, and shirt-shredding as opposed to punching or wrestling.”

“It can also be used to describe two human females insulting each other verbally or being otherwise nasty to each other, Wikipedia says.

As catfights go, this is the mental image I am getting as two honourable ladies, Human rights commission chair Leila De Lima and Public Attorneys Office boss lady Persida Acosta tangle over the February 17 incident on Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA).

Three suspected car thieves died in what Quezon City policemen said was a shootout that erupted when they managed to corner a stolen car after a car chase all the way from Mandaluyong City in eastern Metro Manila.

ABS-CBN had shown its exclusive news footage to police and human rights officials that same evening.

Atty. De Lima, aghast at what she saw, was caught on video as commenting about how the lawmen appeared to have used “excessive force” in shooting at the suspects who no longer seemed to be resisting or were already dying or lifeless.

29 Quezon City lawmen, all members of the police force’s anti ‘carnapping’ strike team remain suspended over the incident.

Quezon City’s police department, headed by recently promoted police general Magtanggol Gatdula has been trying to remove the stigma of the city being called the Philippines’ ‘carnapping capital’ with a string of recent ‘shootouts’ raising the body count of suspected car thieves.


Atty. Acosta feels her lady colleague has “prejudged” the policemen while De Lima maintains that her commission “is acting well within its independent powers as a constitutional body.”

As the week draws to a close Acosta’s office has even reportedly written a letter to De Lima asking her to back off from the case.

Malacanang says it’s not going to intervene, obviously waiting for the two ‘cats’ to refocus their energies on the real issue: whether those killed died in legitimate law enforcement operations or if the killings mirror a graver social malaise which continues unabated: vigilante justice.

When entities are able to act with impunity and accord unto themselves the role of judge, jury, and executioner, it is anarchy with a society descending into a hole it will be difficult if not impossible to get out  from,.

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