Sunday, March 15, 2009

Reprinted from the Philippine Star issue of March 16, 2009

Why Filipinos don't like the 'Pulis'

CTALK By Cito Beltran
Updated March 16, 2009 12:00 AM

In an effort to explain why the police are not as popular or respected, some PNP officials, raised the worn out or “gasgas ng” excuse that it is the fault of TV and movies that ridicule or demonize the police. Instead of getting sympathy, many people simply shook their heads at such a “lazy” knee jerk response.

The Filipinos are eternal optimists and would readily support the PNP if only the PNP leadership would be as honest about their short-comings as they were in admitting their shortage of firearms and ammunition.

By nature and consequence of the job, it is normal that some degree of unpopularity is expected among those who are truly violators of the law or truly victims of abuse by law enforcers. In a professionally run system most of that would be minimal.

If many Filipinos don’t like the “Pulis” it is because there is a very long history of events and abuses that created the situation we are in. The history of the Police in the Philippines has mostly been about good cops. Unfortunately when good cops are placed under crooks or dirty politicians, you have local overlords who used and abused their authority over the police.

The solution was suppose to be the integration and nationalization of the police, but thanks to the integration of the PMAers who established discrimination on the basis of school and batch seniority, the PNP became a schizophrenic institution confused and abused by “Mistahs”.

We should not blame art which imitates life, rather the PNP should do an independent survey in order to list down what Filipinos clearly don’t like or hate in or about the PNP.

Last Saturday I decided to list down and observe peoples’ reactions and comments on the issue. It didn’t take too long for the first reason to drive by in the loudest manner. Two motorcycle cops weaving and waving with sirens blaring as they cleared the way for some arrogant person in an SUV.

The cops may just be doing their job, but they are the initiators of the abuse that the President said is illegal! So the blame and the anger are aimed at cops because we don’t see the jerk in the tinted SUV.

Next up you have uniformed policemen driving by in a Pasig Police AUV blasting their siren going up Shaw Boulevard using the siren as a horn because he is a policeman. How many Filipinos did he annoy?

Then you see policemen in uniform with their sidearm riding on their personal motorcycles with no license plate or using a plate with the word “POLICE” but even worse, they don’t wear the helmets required by law. Ironically, police patrols regularly stop drivers with “modified” or repainted car plates, people who place commemorative plates in the wrong position get flagged down if not shaken down.

On the other hand, just down the corner or some intersection, you will find policemen stopping motorcycle riders with helmets and legal license plates conducting routine inspections like border guards in Gaza.

Do the PNP even realize how much fear or terror their “Men In Black” creates? Imagine a couple of guys armed with automatic weapons wearing combat attire in black driving beside you on motorcycles?

I have good friends within the PNP and I consider myself very pro-PNP but things that have to change. First and foremost, the PNP has to drill and grill their officers with the fact that “THE LAW APPLIES TO ALL ESPECIALLY THE POLICE”.

The PNP needs to emphasize on training officers with the rules of engagement. Whether we like it or not “rules of engagement” and the “Miranda doctrine” have purpose in law enforcement. Only when Police Officers treat Filipinos with respect will they be worthy of full respect.
The funds of the PNP must be spent FIRST on what is needed and on the least or lower ranked members. Spending money for the Scuba training of senior officers in the eyes of the public is nothing more than a junket. How many more guns could have been bought just from the gasoline and food they consumed at Anilao? One 9mm or an M-16 maybe?

Invest first on the needs of the lower rank policemen, their training as well as their families. Give the lower rank Policemen media training, financial competency. Invest in systems that preserves the assets of the PNP such as patrol cars, get help in drive proficiency, etc.

The PNP senior officials should be the first to undergo a social and political sensitivity training. If the PNP has some image problem, blame it on the junket and lifestyle of PNP officials who have become the example for their people. The “Euro-generals” caused more embarrassment and unpopularity to the PNP than any “Pulis Patola” movie

The PNP Transformation program is a very praise worthy undertaking. The initial honesty about their need and lack of firearms actually got me to thinking of soliciting donations from well-armed people I know. But when the “gasgas” excuse of blaming things to TV and Movies came up, I seriously questioned just how sincere some people are about transformation?

We all need to help the PNP. We must all support the PNP. They have good and great men and women in the service. But it is only the PNP that can decide if they really want help and if they are willing to face and fix what needs to be fixed.

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