NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/24 January) — What would happen if those entrusted to hunt and bring to justice criminals or enemies of the people turn out to be criminal elements themselves far worse than those they are hunting?
We are talking about the hoodlums in uniform, the rogue police officers who inflict heavy damage to the image and credibility of the PNP and the government as a whole because of their revolting shenanigans.
Criminal cops are worse than holduppers, carnappers, bank bandits, kidnappers, drug lords, pushers and what else, because they are exactly doing what these criminal elements are doing while representing the government in the conduct of their official duties; because they are armed by the government and because they use government vehicles and other government resources in doing their vicious, shameful, and illegal wealth-making enterprises.
For a long time it is commonly perceived that the government is established primarily to secure and protect the people from those who disturb their peace and comfort. The enemies are now rarely foreign invaders but are composed mostly of petty local thieves and law-breakers of all kind. The government comes into the midst of the people to assure them of their safety through the presence of uniformed men, particularly of police officers even in the remotest of communities.
Time was when even without doing anything the mere presence of a policeman in a street corner provides psychological comfort and put everybody at ease. People stop to greet and chat with him feeling grateful of his presence. And everybody trustingly run to the police for help in times of trouble.
The time has changed. For many, nowadays, the sight of policemen is an omen of impending disaster. Thus, they are now often avoided because there could be wailing and gnashing of teeth every time they pass by a place.
That’s how deep the image of police officers has plunged into. Thanks to the rogue cops who have subverted the trust and confidence of the people in men in uniform by doing or being involved in any of the following nefarious practices:
Harassing motorists for real or imagined violations and demand out-of-trouble settlement;
Demanding protection money from gambling establishments, prostitution dens and other houses of leisure;
Hijacking valuable deliveries, robbing banks, or in the business of kidnap for ransom, carnapping, etc.
In the current government drug war, the rogue cops –
recycle confiscated prohibited drugs, retail them to drug users at competitive prices via a network of pushers and runners;
conduct buy-bust operations, trapping into their dragnet victims who succumbed to their wiles and who, in all circumstances, appear to be the dumbest mammalian in the planet.
Some cops are supposed to extract information from suspected criminals to pin down more of their kind but end up, either upon command from above or by their own volition, silencing suspects to eternal sleep upon noting that the top guns of the drug trade are their very own superiors. They have become the berdugo, the loyalist resourceful cops, who execute victims summarily inside detention cells, in their homes or while on transport to headquarters, to erase crime footprints of the drug trade.
The situation, notwithstanding, I like to believe that there are still good cops. Unfortunately, those who remain loyal to their career are stymied from doing their job by command politics. For instance, no matter how sincere the intention of PNP Chief General Ronald de la Rosa to discipline and cleanse the rank of his command, his efforts are impaired and impeded by the patronizing interference of the Commander-in-Chief who clear and acquit rogue cops of the allegations against them even before they are charged. Dela Rosa, who adores and has so much respect for his patron, has to yield his way and could only shed tears over his frustration. Not once did the tough-looking PNP chief broke down in public view over his hell-hole predicament. The situation weakens gravely the morale of the PNP and suffers its credibility to the public.
The lower house demands that the PNP Chief commit hara kiri for his inability to cleanse the PNP of rogue elements. I wonder why they do not demand the same thing from President Duterte who, among others, is greatly responsible for fouling the image of the PNP?
How would the PNP redeem itself?
In any armed organization, credibility may be restored by purging the organization of its rapacious members. It is to jettison heavy rotten cargoes to keep the ship afloat in even keel and enable it to course through the storm.
Discipline is vital, at all times, in maintaining the morale and true character of an organization.
Tough threatening talks would no longer help in imposing discipline among the men in uniform, unless one will really walk his talk.
To be credible and effective a disciplinarian should not make rules that he cannot execute or apply to all when the time calls for it. Consistency is of utmost importance in any form of discipline. Also, a leader of an organization should avoid making promises he cannot deliver; otherwise he would become an empty grain sack that cannot stand by itself. It is of no value but for a dirt mat.
Needless to say, the government through the police has now become the enemy and not any more the protector of the people. Whom shall we turn to? (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan is a retired professor and former chancellor of the Mindanao State University Naawan campus in Misamis Oriental).