Unarrested: the decline of the Philippine National Police’s image and reputation

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.

philippine+police+shitbrixRecall 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.

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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?

pnp salute fail tweet

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.

purisima for real

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.

13 Replies to “Unarrested: the decline of the Philippine National Police’s image and reputation”

  1. The FHM model is not even a newsworthy event, it happens all the time in every society on the planet. What is scary is the kidnapping of the business owner by PNP personnel on a public street in broad daylight.

    Owing to the disasters of NAIA terminal 3 buying welched on and giving the builder, a German firm, a reason to scream out loud that no one should do business with the Philippine gov’t. nor ,as these recent video’s suggest, should any tourists visit the country for fear of being extorted and or victimized by the police, LOL!

    Any citzens who do not what has got to be done, has got to have their head completely up their ass. GET OUT OF THE COUNTRY, NOW !!
    B4 its too late!

  2. and to clarify: the reason the culprits are so corrupt is the pathetic wages they are paid. Dismal at best it is no wonder they are corrupt as any organized syndicate on earth, completely!

    1. @ G.I. Jeff: People are not dishonest because they are poor. If that were the case, there would be no rich dishonest politicians. This country suffers from a widespread form of malignant narcissism : the conscious mindset that ” I am better than you and my reality is the only one that counts.”* I am not sure what causes this hysterical “every man for himself” attitude. However, it seems to be what the Philippines is all about. I suspect it has to do with how children are reared. With few limits placed on their behavior; most seem to run wild. This causes a type of social retardation that manifests itself in the behavior of the many “adult children” one comes into contact with in this country.

      * term – “malignant narcissism” taken from Huffington Post article by Mark Baer from 09/30/14

      1. @ Sea Bee, NO way dude. Plenty of cops making decent money in the West are not corrupt. However, the socil retardation you speak of is peculiar to the Philippines.
        In the West ,in some places, the corrupt guard their activities that can lead to nasty circumstances such as murder for hire of fellow non-corrupt police who talk to ‘Federal’ agancies about what they see.

        Early 1980 Philiadelphia,Pa. and even currently as well, corruption charges abound.

        1. Comparing the USA to the Philippines is like comparing apples to oranges. The point I am trying to make is that the chaos and lawlessness of filipino society is not caused by poverty and low wages, alone. There is something historical and cultural which is the root cause of the lack of empathy and community pride; which is the glue that usually holds groups of people that live in the same area together. The feeling that “we are all in this together” seems to be largely missing in this country. Instead, there is an attitude that I describe as “childish”; in that the person only thinks of what they want at this particular moment and to hell with the consequences. Until the reasons for this attitude are addressed; no progress in this country is possible. The reason I used the analogy of child rearing is because we all know what happens when there is no accountability to hold our appetites and whims in check. The strong trample the weak, the greedy hog the resources meant for all and life becomes a “tooth and claw”” affair.

        2. Sea Bee just summed up the attitude of almost every third world nation. These countries are basically Social Darwinist specimens in a macroscopic scale.

  3. Aquino is like the Godfather of this Philippine style “Mafia”. He appointed Purisima who is the “ultimate crook”…

    We have Police who are criminals; criminals who are Police. How many “crooks” are there in the Aquino administration; including Aquino, himself?

    1. it is easier to ask who is NOT a criminal.The immediate answer is: None, they all are.It is the way it is, and you best get with the program.

    1. The first picture makes me want to cry. That poor old man didnt deserve to be the butt of the joke in the internet, because of the incompetent of the higher ups… because I’ve seen this picture one too many times and I prefer to insult that corrupt idiot chief rather than that old man. Almost like how some decent but unfortunate pinoy became butt jokes thanks to some idiot politician

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