CALAPAN CITY — When the administration announced that there were no extrajudicial killings (EJKs) on President Rodrigo Duterte’s watch, it must have missed the case of anticrime crusader Zenaida Luz.
As far as Luz’s family is concerned, her death in Oriental Mindoro is one that perfectly fits the EJK profile.
“Isn’t it [an EJK] when a state agent, someone in authority, unjustly kills a helpless civilian?” her sister Perlita Alvarez asked. “To me, that should be clear enough.”
The Philippine National Police recently said there had been no case of EJK over the past year, in reaction to a Social Weather Stations survey that showed 74 percent of Filipinos feared becoming victims themselves of Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs.
The antinarcotics drive has killed thousands of suspects, drawing condemnation in the country and abroad.
EJKs, as defined in Administrative Order No. 35, refer to the killings of journalists or people affiliated with cause-oriented organizations — whether political, environmental, agrarian or labor.
The killers should be state agents or nonstate agents and the attack carried out in a manner showing “deliberate intent to kill,” the order said.
Luz, 51, was the regional chair of Citizens Crime Watch, an anticrime watchdog, when she was gunned down in front of her home in Barangay Maligaya in Gloria town.
At least two of the four identified gunmen were police officers, one of whom wore a balaclava and the other a woman’s wig to conceal their identities.
On Oct. 9, Luz’s family quietly marked the “babang luksa” on the first death anniversary of a loved one that signifies the end of the mourning period.
Alvarez, who lives in Batangas province, chose to skip the tradition. “I just don’t feel this is the right time [to move on],” she said.
She said two prime suspects — Senior Insp. Magdalino Pimentel Jr. and Insp. Markson Almeranez — were released on bail in August.
The court granted the police officers’ petition for bail, saying the prosecution failed to establish “conspiracy” in the murder.
“During one of the hearings, I happened to be seated next to Pimentel. He was no longer in handcuffs then,”
Feeling uneasy, she said she quietly played a Christian song from her cell phone. “You’d be surprised, Pimentel started [humming to] it,” she said.
The Inquirer’s calls to a cell phone number identified to be Pimentel’s went unanswered, but police sources said Pimentel and Almeranez were recently asked to report to the Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan (Mimaropa) police headquarters here.
Supt. Imelda Tolentino, spokesperson for the regional police, said Pimentel and Almeranez had just “personally received” a copy of the PNP order dismissing them from the service on Tuesday.
“The last time I talked to them, they said they would file an appeal,” said Supt. William Destura, head of the PNP Internal Affairs Service in Oriental Mindoro.
The next court hearing in Manila is scheduled for Oct. 26.
“I don’t feel any hatred toward the police,” said Alvarez, a church worker who gives inspirational talk to policemen and inmates in Batangas.
Alvarez said the legal battle was taking its toll on her family but it was standing firm against any offer of settlement.
The policemen in Gloria, who arrested Pimentel and Almeranez on the night of the attack, also felt “demoralized” and exhausted given the slow pace of the court proceedings.
“To be honest, I don’t hate them anymore,” Alvarez said. “They have nothing to answer to our family anymore, but they still have to face the law.”