A terrible news broke this week that a mother and son were murdered in cold blood by a police officer because of an issue with neighborhood noise. Based on what I’ve read online, the victim’s party was making noise using “boga” – a firecracker alternative. In the Philippines, especially in the provinces, people begin using firecrackers in December for entertainment, for celebration, or for culture that people have gotten used to. The police, who apparently was off duty at that time, rushed to the victim’s property, and it’s all downhill from there. You may check the video online, but trigger warning.
A few things about what happened.
The culture of impunity – it’s been quite controversial how the Philippine police force is being branded as killers and terrorists, opposite of what they have sworn to do – to serve and protect. This tragedy triggered people to take their frustration and anger on social media by trending #StopTheKillingsPH and #PulisAngTerorista for the last 2-3 days. It was like the long awaited mistake to prove the point of how dirty and mismanaged the institution is; the straw that broke the camel’s back. From there, it branched out to practically different things – touched multiple issues of red tagging, extra judicial killings, terrorism, etc. But then, as all arguments would have, some opposed that one should not generalize the behavior of a single policeman with the whole force. On multiple news articles posted by real news agencies, people have been posting “Blame the person, not the profession,” which kinda makes sense, but totally misses the point of the whole thing.
You see, the call’s purpose is not to destroy the National Police. This does not, in any way, aim to dismantle the very institution that is meant to protect and serve the people. But when they fail at their jobs, when their leadership sweeps their mistakes under the rug, when they try to cover things up for the “lack of evidence,” then one has to pressure the force to straighten themselves up. No one argues that there are good cops – there truly are. But humor this – when these good cops allow the bad cops to stay in the force, without doing any action to kick them off, or punish them, then they’re just as good as accessories to brewing cop crimes.
Lack of humility – it’s frustrating how the leadership and the spokespeople of the force do not highlight the acknowledgement of the problem, nor the action being taken to fix it. Instead, their energy is focused on staying on their high horses, claiming that the tragedy was a misrepresentation of the force’s “hero” behavior. Everyone, even the DILG claims that there is no impunity. You see, impunity is something that doesn’t manifest until they have committed so, but you will definitely see it through their words, and how their opinions are formed. I’ve seen couple of those careless policemen who have posted their opinion on what happened, blaming the victim for “provoking” the suspect – and it was their fault for getting gunned down.
That in itself is the culture – the similar frame of mind – that impunity delivers, and people fail and/or refuse to see and understand that.
At the end of the day, we all want the same thing – to have the police uphold their sworn duty to protect and serve the people of this country, and we deserve it.
I would also like to commend the few good policemen who, even if they have been collateral damage to the public outrage, remain strong and driven to put their lives on the line just to keep the people safe. With all my heart, thank you for your service.