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Sunday, March 26, 2023

[EDITORIAL] We Condemn Police Brutality

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Paul Tena
Paul Tena is an alumnus of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Politixxx Today and he also traverses into fiction writing in his spare time. Sometimes he goes by his pen name JPE Tena. His debut novel, The Lore Kingdom, was named an Honorable Mention in 2021 Lampara Prize. For more information, you may reach him via tenajpe@gmail.com.

The condemnation of police brutality should not be a subject of any further arguments in any civilized society. Simply put, we just cannot justify an inherently erroneous act perpetrated by those who are vested with power to enforce law and preserve public order.

The public outrage on the death of Sonya Gregorio and her son Frank Anthony Gregorio is yet another reminder of the rampant extrajudicial killings happening in the Philippines. The mother and son were shot in broad daylight, and in front of a child. We can’t help but wonder on the extent that an abusive police officer can commit when there are no witnesses or cameras around and in secrecy of nighttime.

The year of killings

In this year alone notable deaths of civilians in the hands of policemen stirred the conversation on police brutality. Last April, at the height of the Manila lockdown, a war veteran was shot on the ground by police officers in Quezon City. A report claims that the victim was suffering from post-traumatic disorder caused by his encounter in the Marawi siege in 2017.

When July came, another crime transpired that dragged the names of some policemen. This time, in Mindanao, four soldiers succumbed to death. Rappler reported that four intelligence officers and men were killed by policemen in Jolo, Sulu. Another disgusting display of abuse happened in Ilocos Sur where two cops were tagged in the rape-slay of a fifteen year old victim. To this day, justice has yet to be served. Worse, the list goes on and we can only imagine the worst devilish acts that can be committed in the imminent impunity that these offenders enjoy.

Public pressure

The public must continue to be vigilant against acts like these. We must take note that the police are there “to serve and to protect” the people. The enablers of these appalling circumstances cannot claim that these are merely isolated cases. In fact, we see a pattern of abuse as the claws of justice fail to catch the perpetrators properly.

Even if one claims that these are isolated in nature, we cannot disregard the fact that the victims must be indemnified by obtaining the right reparation. Moreover, the scales of the justice system tilt in their favor because the loss of their loved ones will never equate to any form of indemnification. The loss was devastating enough which could have been prevented only if they were faithful to their oath as policemen.

Only some, not all

Of course, this is not a hasty generalization of the Philippine National Police (PNP) as an institution. We know, for sure, that there are heroes among their ranks. These police officers also suffer from the stained reputation brought about by the bad eggs among their peers. However, we urge the good policemen and the PNP as a whole to speak out in public to condemn these brutal acts in order to gain confidence from the people. Through their efforts to clean their organization, we also need them to explicitly provide concrete solutions rather than hollow messages that cannot move a needle.

Moving forward

We call on the Senate and House of Representatives to use their Congressional Oversight functions in order to examine, review, inspect, monitor, evaluate, incentivize reforms and exact accountability from the Philippine National Police (PNP) for its failure to prevent killings perpetrated by its police officers. We especially urge Senator Bato Dela Rosa to exercise prudence and fairness as the Chairman of Committee on Public Orders in a possible investigation in aid of legislation that the said Committee may conduct.

We also decry President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-Human Rights rhetorics that embolden police scalawags and other vigilante elements in our society to commit human rights violations with impunity.

In the end, both the leaders of the PNP and the public at large must work together if we want to live in a society where confidence in the men and women in uniform is something that is freely given. The reciprocal respects on both ends must come for us to live in a better society. We should stop justifying a wrongful act. We must be comfortable in calling a spade a spade. Surely, a glaring crime is never justified, it is only retributed.

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