July 14, 2019
Mix politics and religion and you get a combustible brew of an incendiary bomb triggered by anarchy and bigotry, depending on who would lob the device at what target and which occasion.
Do the same for drugs and guns, lace them with reckless disregard for the law and the community if you are a user or a pusher and top them with the arrogance of power if you are the police gone astray, and you end up just giving so-called collateral damages the once-over to mark the conclusion of a bloody day’s work.
In the past few days, we have had to bear with “viral” video either on the leading players in the much criticized drug crackdown of the Duterte administration or on simply boorish behavior of the agents of the law who quite unbelievably think that they were born to entitlement, which, we are absolutely sure, is not mentioned at all in police training school.
A three-year-old girl in Rodriguez, Rizal, last month died during a reported shootout between policemen and her father, who apparently had scooped the child from harm’s way when the authorities raided his house to arrest him for illegal drugs.
The police version was that the father used his daughter as a human shield when even fuzzy logic would tell you that he instinctively protected the toddler when the raiders barged into the house.
In Dumaguete City last week, a 22-year-old, who recently graduated from college, was killed by her own father — a police officer — in what witnesses described as “accidental firing” after a nasty quarrel between them.
The weapon used was the very service firearm of the father, 54, who reportedly deeply regretted what had happened and who denied that he was drunk at the time.
In Pasig City, a policeman, reportedly from the Eastern Police District, also last week was caught also on video grabbing by the neck and then beating up for no apparent reason an eight-year-old boy who was watching a basketball game in a covered court.
The video showed ”physical assault” on a “kid,” according to Metro Manila Police chief Guillermo Eleazar, who had the apparent culprit detained and charged with physical injury in relation to the anti-child abuse law.
Also last week, Eleazar sacked from the force another policeman who was caught, too, on video “showing him verbally abusing and harassing an ordinary citizen.”
All these incidents show that the law can be abused by the very same men (or women) who are supposed to uphold and protect the right of every Filipino to be presumed innocent until proven guilty as in the case of the father from Rizal who tried but failed to save his daughter from bullets, or to be allowed to go unmolested wherever any eight-year-old boy may want to shoot the breeze whether in a basketball court or a shopping mall, unless he purposely breaks the law, or to be listened to as in the case of the police officer’s daughter without her paying for it with her own life.
The case of the three-year-old girl also shows how the rules of engagement are being applied in police operations, where the safety of the citizen, whether 3 or 93, and the community should be paramount even before a policeman pulls out his gun, which obviously is not a toy, because it can kill or save people if used the way it was intended to be.
The police should err on the side of caution because, even if they have been heavily flagged by concerned local and international groups and individuals over their role in the government’s war on drugs, they remain crucial to its resounding success or utter failure.
Those among them who do not have any part in the crackdown on illegal drugs should let eight-year-olds do what children their age do because if they don’t, then maybe the Philippine National Police should prohibit them from watching basketball games or barangay dance contests, especially if they are carrying guns to enable them to “enforce” the law.
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