RIWAYA: PSSG Jilah’s Knee-jerk Reflex to PD Bayawan’s Disciplinary Action

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 08 August) — If a subordinate’s hair does not meet the standard length prescribed by the Philippine National Police (PNP), must it be compulsively trimmed off by his superior instantaneously? Is that the right course of official disciplinary action? No initial verbal or written warning at all?

Last August 6, Sulu Police Director Michael Bayawan, Jr. did just that to PSSG Imran A. Jilah of the 3rd Mobile Patrol, 2nd Police Mobile Force Company.

Such action reminded me of how principals in the past roughly snipped off unceremoniously long hair of pupils and  high school students of Notre Dame of Jolo for Boys. One’s tuft  of hair is badly shorned on one side to the dismay of parents and family seeing the result when their own kids returned home.

If you are publicly humiliated by your superior as his subordinate, must you respond by instinctively pulling the trigger to kill him?

That’s what PSSG Jilah committed on the spot against such folly triggered by PD Bayawan when the former felt humiliated on that fateful day along Asturias Street, town of Jolo, province of Sulu.

It was reported by some media that Jilah’s hair was trimmed off by Bayawan but other FB Tausug netizens added Jilah was also reprimanded, slapped, and kicked in public by the latter.

Was pulling the trigger by reflex some sort of a knee-jerk reflex? Automatic, involuntary and unthinking so to speak?  A sudden reflex (Jilah’s clicking of the trigger) caused by a (PD Bayawan’s folly kind of) blow on the tendon (of one’s honor)  just below the knee … Or was the provocation below the belt? To mean as in humiliating, debasing, degrading, demeaning, mortifying, abasing to the point of being obfuscated of one’s reason not to kill; thus, was compelled in automatic moral defense to kill?

Then again, if you were bodyguards who witnessed such similar incident on the spot, would you also instinctively pull the trigger to kill your colleague-assailant in order to defend your superior? Is that the PNP standard operating procedure so to speak? To hit lethally the assailant? Not to hit him on the shins to capture or quell him?

It was reported that Bayawan’s bodyguards along with Jilah’s colleagues allegedly reacted by shooting Jilah. Allegedly, Jilah was left lying on the ground while Bayawan was rushed to the hospital for medical attention. Unfortunately, both of them expired due to the tragic incident. Jilah’s assailants were not identified in any news item so far.\

Legally, what is the accountability: of Jilah in shooting and killing Bayawan? of his unidentified colleagues who shot and killed Jilah? of Bayawan who provoked and humiliated Jilah in public?

So much posts littered social media from netizens in social media highlighting uncalled for arrogance of superiors, their proclivity to humiliate subordinates, alluding or stereotyping arrogance to clout, power and ethnicity just as valuing honor and preparedness as well as preference to die when unduly debased personally.

Jilah who fearlessly and unwittingly dared to kill and to die in defense of honor (martabbat) was extolled and acclaimed as a noble hero exemplifying the ethos and moral dignity quintessential of the Bangsa Tausug when violated or oppressed. Prof Nur Danial posted that it is not that the Tausug is as prickly sensitive as a carbuncle but because he values innate honor and dignity as priceless. (“Bukun in Tausug nana’ bautut sah nangaput sipug”).

Indeed, regardless of gender, race, religion, socio-cultural orientation — we are obliged to fulfill, promote, uphold human dignity! Respect and be respected. Clearly, in this case, whether you are a superior or not, humiliating or trampling on another’s inalienable dignity is unwarranted and uncalled for just because of mild (not gross) insubordination; just as similarly, with or without provocation, being humiliated in private or public must not be a justification to deprive another of the sanctity of life especially so it is between law enforcers whose action and conduct are governed by PNP protocols and by-laws. Generally, speaking that must be the ideal scenario.

Yes, I am a Muslim Tausug but I am not wont to romanticize the tragic issue neither do I like to pronounce judgment nor to straddle the fence just to maintain peace. I am reminded by the Islamic principles that the strong man is not the one who can overpower others  but he is the one who controls himself when angry; and that to spill a drop of blood “without just cause” is a crime against humanity. Nevertheless, human as we are when subjected to gross abasement, can we be as powerful enough in exerting sabar (patience) as in “fasabrun jameelan” or be patient with a beautiful patience?

It is disturbing how palpably issues of impunity, encroachment, oppression, stereotyping, tribalism, discrimination are triggered like a Pandora’s box containing a plethora of angsts, transgenerational wounds and trauma endemic not only to the Tausug but also otherwise alike. All these must be faced, ought to be healed at long last, not just to be ignored nor be taken for granted. In shaa Allah.

Lost in a convoluted rhetorics, I hope that a memo will be issued immediately by the PNP and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) forbidding superiors from shaming, insulting, cursing, cussing, committing physical violence against wayward subordinates; in lieu of that, proper court action by filing a case must be done. Revisiting to relearn the moral conduct and ethical standards of PNP force must also  be mandatory for both in command and in the rank and file  for them to implement and practice peace and order internally and externally without resorting to tragic bloodshed.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Warina Sushil A. Jukuy describes herself as a” Muslim Tausug of Lupah Sug in diaspora, displaced twice from Sulu to Davao City in 1974 and again since 2009. She thrives as a Peace Warrior using mortar and pestle, pen and ink, colors and voice, and keyboard.”)