There is no justice in the Philippines. If it weren’t enough that the massacre of 44 police officers of the police’s elite Special Action Force was such an unnecessary tragedy, the reappointment of disgraced police chief Alan Purisima to his position as Philippine National Police (PNP) Director adds insult to national injury.
Purisima figured significantly in the bungling of the January 2015 PNP Special Action Force (SAF) anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano that led to the bloodbath. At the time he was effectively on suspension on charges of corruption, yet had somehow inserted himself into the operational command chain. Worse, Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III actively covered up Purisima’s culpability in the tragedy and, even as evidence mounted highlighting Purisima’s accountability, baldly refused to apologise to the Filipino public.
Even before the Mamasapano Massacre, Purisima had already been under the spotlight for grossly mismanaging the PNP. Under Purisima’s watch, the Philippines’ police had degenerated into a bandit force largely seen as profoundly complicit in the very crimes its members pretend to prevent and solve.
In late 2014, a road hijacking incident perpetrated in broad daylight on Metro Manila’s busiest highway was caught on camera. The ensuing investigation into the incident revealed the appalling extent to which members of the Philippine police were involved in the crime. The speed with which the case was subsequently “solved” is one of the remarkable features of this incident. It raises the question of how this story would have ended if no such photo had gone viral and attracted the attention of no less than Senator JV Ejercito among others.
Such clear evidence of mismanagement of an agency critical to the overall wellbeing of ordinary Filipinos should have, by itself, prompted its leadership to at the very least reflect and commit to atonement or, at best, resign as an act of personal honour. But in the case of Purisima, even a gross exhibit of incompetence and dereliction of duty does not seem to be taken as a cue to make a graceful bowing out.
The more disturbing aspect of Purisima’s continued role as leader of the PNP is how it reflects on Philippine society as a whole. One wonders why an entire citizenry long subject to police incompetence can continue to tolerate insults to their intelligence such as this.
Ultimately, it comes down to how Filipinos have been so effectively reduced to no more than a flock of dumb sheep utterly beaten and resigned to being merely herded from one pasteur to another to lazily graze. People like Alan Purisima exist because the people who are subject to them allow them to exist. A “democracy”, after all, is a rule by the “majority”, see — which means the character of the rulers merely reflect the characters of the people they rule over.
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