It is commonly named "Habal-Habal", because of the rugged terrain of the provinces it is hard
for four wheeled cars to maneuver.
It all started in the early 80's when motorcycles are used in the muddy roads going up to Mount Diwalwal,
in Compostela province in the Island of Mindanao. Soon it spreads like wild fire it can be seen on the
Some lawless criminals make use of this ubiquitous motorcycles, they used it as get away vehicle in staging
bank robberies, hold ups and ordinary petty crimes, and drug related problems specially in Cebu City where petty crimes is rampant, riding in tandem hold-uppers thrives snatching bags and valuables from pedestrians.
As a result of the alarming crime rate, Cebu residents started creating vigilante groups, killing suspected
criminals and drug lords, assassins also rode in tandem using "Habal-Habal" as vehicle.
ARCHBISHOP Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal was vocal about his opposition to the summary killings of suspected criminals by “death squads,” according to a US Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks.
In cable 05MANILA1774 titled “Latest Vigilante Killings in Cebu - No End in Sight,” Cardinal Vidal criticized Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and condemned the extrajudicial killings in the city.
“Cardinal Vidal has forcefully denounced the summary executions in his homilies and through the archdiocese's newsletter, urging Cebuanos to reject the ‘culture of death,’” said former US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone Jr. in a memo.
The embassy memo, which was created on April 18, 2005 and was released on Aug. 30, 2011, stated that suspected vigilantes killed at least 41 people in a four-month period alone.
Incumbent Archbishop of Cebu Jose Palma shares the same sentiment as his predecessor.
“I support the statement of Cardinal Vidal,” Palma told Sun.Star Cebu.
“Suspects should be arrested and tried in court and just sentence be meted out. We denounce crime but also believe in the wheels of justice,” he added.
Ricciardone said Vidal, who retired from office in January this year, “admonished Osmeña and appealed to the new anti-crime unit to arrest suspects and not kill them, noting, ‘I cannot understand how we can terminate the lives of men without the just process we are used to.’”
In a separate interview, Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) said he was never for summary killings.
“I was not supportive of summary killings. Forcing the police to address criminality is not sanctioning salvaging. It's not the same,” said Osmeña, who was attending the budget hearing in Congress yesterday, in a text message.
In 2006, Osmeña admitted he might have “inspired” vigilantism in Cebu City after announcing cash rewards for those who can neutralize criminals in 2004.
Shortly after the pronouncement on cash rewards, vigilantism prospered in Cebu City, killing hundreds of lives of criminals and even those just suspected of committing crimes.
It was in 2004 that Osmeña created the “Hunter Team” composed of 24 police officers to go after robbers and criminals. He did say then that the law will be followed in hunting down crime elements.
WikiLeaks, according to its web site, is a non-profit media organization dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public.
“Civil society groups have condemned the extrajudicial killings, but much of the public appears willing to tolerate them as an expedient means of combating crime,” the cable said.
The cable also stated that Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia publicly supported the “Hunter Team,” saying this served as a “chilling message” to suspected criminals.
The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Commission on Human Rights 7 Director Alejandro Alonso, who emphasized “the need for safeguards to prevent abuse of official authority,” also supported the team.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu Chapter passed a resolution in January 2005 urging the Cebu city Police Office to arrest the perpetrators and to help solve criminality in accordance with the rule of law.
“Many, perhaps even a majority of Cebu residents appear to support the Mayor's tough stance against crime, especially appreciative of the drop in crime rates. As long as local officials believe that the public will tolerate such extreme measures, they are likely to continue at least tacitly to sanction such killings, despite our repeated expressions of concern,” said Ricciar-done.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 06, 2011.
CEBU CITY'S VIGILANTE KILLINGS: VICTIMS COUNT REACHES 165The 165th victim was shot dead yesterday, ironically, right outside one of the city's main Catholic cemeteries where he plied his trade making tombstones.
CEBU CITY, JUNE 14, 2006 (STAR) By Jose P. Sollano and Gregg M. Rubio The Freeman - It's now 165 and maybe still counting as the police continue to face the proverbial blank wall in their investigation on the vigilante-style killings in Cebu City.
The latest victim is 42-year-old Benjamin Raganas of barangay Carreta, sustained gunshot wounds on his head and body. Raganas, single, reportedly had no previous record according to the police.
Attending physicians at the Cebu City Medical Center pronounced him dead on arrival.
Witnesses told Homicide investigator SPO1 Jay Aballe that Raganas was busy making a tombstone on the sidewalk near corner General Maxilom and M.J. Cuenco Ave. at about 9 a.m. when he was shot.
Two people riding tandem on a motorcycle stopped in front of him then the backrider pulled out a gun and shot the victim several times.
The assailant even fired one more shot even if Raganas was already slumped on the pavement.
The killers fled towards Lorega San Miguel.
One Jojo Castro, who was standing nearby when the incident happened, told police investigators that when the assailant of Raganas pulled his firearm, he noticed a handcuff and a holster on the man's waist.
Responding police investigators recovered four empty caliber .45 shells. They were however already placed on the table owned by the victim by bystanders when the police came.
While the body count continues to steadily increase, Police Regional Office-7 director Chief Supt. Silverio Alarcio, Jr. yesterday admitted that there is no development so far in the investigation into the vigilante killings in Cebu City.
Alarcio said that no witnesses are coming out to identify the perpetrators of the crimes.
Alarcio has ordered acting Cebu City Police Office director Supt. Melvin Gayotin, to look into reports that a policeman might have been involved the most recent killing.
The regional police chief however said that not everyone who has a holster and handcuffs is a policeman.
"Very speculative pa 'yan dahil ang posas is readily accessible," Alarcio said.
He added that the people behind the vigilante killings can only be prosecuted if there are witnesses, who can help them in the investigation. He added that he is not worried that a group wanted to raise the issue in vigilante killing in Cebu City to international group.
He said that the police are really doing their job to investigate the killings.
The unsolved killings in the country, including the spate of vigilante-style executions in Cebu, have alarmed officials of the Commission on Human Rights.
The CHR said the unsolved summary executions in the country might affect the membership of the Philippine in the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The series of vigilante-style killings started in December 2004 and the victims are mainly those people who have criminal records.