Issue of December 9, 2018

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Baguio City has records to show that heinous crimes are not in an alarming scale in the past years, and lately has reasons to boast for having a decreasing crime volume in general. One proof is that Baguio has been ranked sixth among the top 10 safest cities in Southeast Asia through a survey in April this year.

Some may validly claim that it is a community of peace-loving people despite being a home to diverse cultures and roots, a melting pot of varied races and faiths.

So when heinous crimes do happen in this city, it shocks to the core and makes one wonder how such gruesome incident could ever happen here.

The Dec. 6 murder of prominent Islamic preacher, Imam Bedejim Abdullah, in broad daylight at a busy street at the Baguio City Public Market may be considered an isolated case. With the suspect still unidentified and at large and with investigation still under way, people could only speculate on the motive until the police have arrested those involved in the crime and have brought them to justice.

Abdullah was a highly regarded and respected Muslim preacher for his charismatic ways and active involvement in fostering peace between Muslims, the Catholics, and other indigenous peoples of Baguio and Cordillera. His approachable way and willingness to share knowledge in various fields including controversial social issues blended well in the city that convinced many of his fellows from Mindanao to settle peacefully in Baguio and parts of Benguet.

His killing is isolated just like the case of a prominent lady lawyer shot dead in 2004 in a busy road while waiting for a ride home or of the 15-year-old girl in 2016 found in a pool of blood inside their house allegedly murdered by a newly hired house help. It is not related to the case of a 16-year-old Baguio student suspected as drug pusher killed in a buy-bust operation, or to that of a high school student robbed and killed on his way home from school.

It may not be also connected to that of another man also suspected as a drug personality who was shot dead inside his car in the middle of the street in broad daylight, or to the pawnshop cashier found dead early in her morning shift, and to the others found lifeless within the confines of their houses for curious motives.

All of these happened separately and could not be said as an organized spate of violence unheeded by authorities.

Abdullah’s death in a tragic manner perpetuated in the least expected place, however, bespeaks of our tendency to be complacent about having a “generally peaceful and orderly” situation. The city might be peaceful compared with the situations of other cities in the country where killings and terrorism are already normal occurrences, but random brutalities should be one too many for Baguio City where crowds form in no time for every display of creativity and at the littlest drop in temperature.

It doesn’t do much good for citizens unaccustomed to gruesome crimes and for a city that has recently become an all-season destination of tourists.

We could not just stop at calling one victim hapless, classify them under the isolated case list, feel lucky it was not us, and move on.

As we cannot blame anyone but the perpetrators of the victims in isolated cases, we believe in serving justice to whom it is due in the soonest possible time, and for everybody – leaders, law enforcers, and citizens – to do their roles so that criminals would not be so emboldened to shatter the peaceful state of the city.

We also believe more efforts are needed in keeping the peace, because it is fragile as a glass that can be shattered anytime if it is not guarded well. After all, crime prevention is everybody’s concern.



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