It helps to recall one of the tongue-in-cheek comments I heard when I was much younger:
In Italy, they have the Mafia.
In Japan, they have the Yakuza.
In the Philippines, they have the national police!
It shouldn’t be that hard to deduce that the above passage is referring to each country’s organized crime syndicate.
Recall that back in September 2013 an edition of BizNewsAsia came out with big bold letters “The Philippines’ Biggest Crime Syndicate” and a picture of the Philippine Congress in session on the cover. So now apparently, both the Philippine Congress and the Philippine National Police (PNP) can be referred to as the big (if not the biggest) crime syndicates in the country.
What does this signify? It seems that among the entities that the populace turn to in order to protect their rights and their safety, these two cannot be counted on to do their job properly. In fact, these two bodies are among the perpetrators – and possibly the instigators too – of such intrusion and violation into the citizens’ well-being.
It’s the PNP that has come into the spotlight more recently, though. The PNP’s image and reputation are undergoing a condition which I can describe with the same PNP acronym as well: palala nang palala (keeps getting worse).
Fellow GRP writer and Manila Times columnist Ben Kritz highlighted at the start of this year just how ridiculous it makes the PNP look that the organization was considering at that time to hire a private security firm to provide security services at their headquarters at Camp Crame. And it looks like this plan is going to push through, according to PNP Chief Alan Purisima. The contract with the chosen security agency is reportedly being finalized.
As the year progressed, one particular type of crime was highlighted: the motorcycle tandem assassins. Like other types of crime in the Philippines, this one has deep systemic and societal roots which, unfortunately, the likes of our lawmakers and the police have been unable to get to the bottom of.
Come September this year, a photo of several gunmen attacking an SUV along EDSA went around in social media. As it turns out, this incident involved several police officers from the La Loma police station in Quezon City. As GRP webmaster benign0 has pointed out, one of the “remarkable” features of this incident was how quickly it was solved. It is widely believed that had not the photo of the incident circulated online, it wouldn’t have gotten much attention; therefore it would not have been solved.
When the PNP Hotline Twitter page was asked about the picture below, its reply was that it was part of a photo shoot for a “humanized PNP campaign”. As a friend with relatives in the service has pointed out, the salute is never to be mocked or made fun of, ever. Thus, the answer of whoever was manning the PNP Hotline Twitter page at that time could only be described as lame, stupid, and not helping the credibility issues of the police. It is interesting to note that this photo came up in light of that EDSA gunmen incident which I described in the previous paragraph. Was it perhaps, an attempt on the part of the PNP to diffuse growing public anger over the involvement of police?
Just before September ended, the name of the PNP was again dragged into a mess. This time, such mess was created when FHM model Alyzza Agustin showed a picture of PNP Police directed Alexander Ignacio’s calling card on her Facebook page. More than the picture itself – the “Please assist my EA” portion on the back included – the caption she added was of more interest. She described that she had been caught for a coding violation but was able to go scot-free because of the card.
Unfortunately, it was yet another mess that the PNP hardly needed given the battering it took. And the “ending” to this chapter was that both Ignacio and Agustin denied knowing each other personally. It even looks like the PNP director is going to file charges against the model.
The most recent hit – and probably the most damning one to date – involves the PNP chief himself, Alan Purisima. This is a man who seems to be in utter denial or in total obliviousness of the crooked and deteriorating state of the police force he has been head of. Not to mention that the answers he has provided to questions about his discounted SUV and his freebie mansion are totally unconvincing.
The seemingly unarrested decline of the PNP’s reputation and image – whether this has been realized or not – affects the image of the Philippines as a whole. A country without a police force that is able to reliably protect its own citizens will find it hard to earn respect from the international community; this is all the more painful for the Philippines because it is utterly reliant on foreign countries for tourism, investments, prop-ups to our hollow economy, and validation. The Philippines is, and will be, for a long time to come, a country where the rule of law is more of a punchline than anything else.
The cases I cited in this article have done absolutely nothing to help dispel such unfavorable perception of the police. Filipinos already have enough on their hands worrying about whether the police are going to turn against them or not. If the PNP is unable to show that it can do its job of protecting the people – even from itself – seriously and competently, then perhaps the Philippines is indeed a country where the citizens are forced to take matters into their own hands, with disastrous results.
The combination of a corrupt society, a law-breaking citizenry, an incompetent police force, and a useless government has resulted in this mess called the Philippines. And it seems to be a mess that Filipinos will unlikely be ever to find their way out of.
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