Monday, March 16, 2009


What happened last March 14 at the Batasan Hills Police Station 6 in Quezon City - where a DZMM reporter and two ABS-CBN newsmen were assaulted by three people who were then filing a complaint against a neighbor - is reflective of the disturbing culture permeating our police force.

It all started when DZMM reporter Dexter Ganibe was attacked while making his regular rounds at the police station, presumably to gather news. ABS-CBN cameraman Benny Ganelo, who happened to be there, saw the incident and attempted to cover it, but was prevented from doing so when he was also attacked by being punched and stabbed in the stomach with a ballpen. The daring lady assailants even wrecked his video camera and snatched the tape.

All these happened inside a police precinct right under the noses of the police. So what were the police doing and why did they allow this incident to happen? A certain police inspector Alex Alberto offered a lame and pathetic excuse by saying that since the assailants were women they were reluctant to intervene for fear of touching their sensitive parts that would become the source of controversy. Can you believe this? The first and foremost consideration for every policeman should be the safety of the citizen he is duty-bound to protect and that duty must be discharged regardless of the gender or status of the assailant. What if the attack went beyond mere infliction of physical injuries and escalated to a more serious level?

A police station should be the least of all places where a citizen is likely to be victimized by criminal assault. To serve and protect the public has always been - and should always be - the guiding principle of our police force. The police are there to prevent crimes and ensure our safety, but what happens when even the police cannot live up to this standard like what happened in the ABS-CBN newsmen incident? The public's confidence in the police as the protector of the people gets eroded.

We should not brush this aside as an isolated incident. I'm sure we have all been witnesses to cases of crime victims being allowed to beat, assault or attack suspects while in police custody. These things happen while the police are watching or even handling the suspects, as if they are being entertained by the victims' outrage. Even worse, sometimes it is the police themselves who beat their suspects to a pulp.

Needless to say, even criminal suspects deserve to be protected from physical harm and any assault against them is no less a crime. Besides, these people are still suspects who, in most cases, have not even been charged in court yet - let alone adjudged guilty. Every citizen, no matter how circumstanced, should find safety at the hands of the police. Instead of fearing their presence, the police should provide comfort; comfort in the thought that their presence protects us against criminal elements and those who want to do us harm.

With the involvement of our police force in manifold controversies ranging from corruption to rub-outs, our confidence in them continues to decline so much so that we cower instead of finding comfort in their presence. To be sure, there are still good policemen out there, but this disturbing culture of malfeasance among the rotten is also pulling them down and threatens to soil their reputations unless something is done to stop this malady. Even more worrisome, a distrustful public creates the danger of experimenting with its own version of law enforcement.

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