THE more than 200 or so allegedly rogue policemen who were presented to President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang this week are being tried by publicity.
In so saying, we are merely going by the democratic principle that each of them is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, not in the official residence of the country’s admittedly most powerful man. But this does not mean we don’t have our suspicions about these allegedly rogue cops.
But Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa, in herding some of the allegedly bad eggs in the force to the Palace on the sly last Tuesday, practically declared them guilty of the administrative or criminal cases, or both, that they have been accused of.
Yet, as far as we have gathered, no case, or at least not one of the cases that the accused supposedly face, has been resolved.
Still, President Duterte invoked his prerogative to flout the law—apparently glossing over the fact that he himself is a lawyer—and decided to send the allegedly criminal or corrupt, or both, policemen to supposedly hardship posts in terrorist-plagued southern Philippines, particularly Basilan province.
The President’s unilateral move did not solve anything from the moral and legal perspectives.
Shaming the allegedly rogue policemen on live television was akin to shoppers in a neighborhood grocery suspected of having shoplifted to be paraded by the store manager inside the establishment, ruling like God that the hapless victim is as guilty as hell.
Morally, this widespread practice humiliates without Christian reason the “shoplifter” who, on top of being stripped of his dignity or what is left of it anyway, is also being made to pay 3, 5 or 10 times of what he had “stolen” in exchange for his freedom.
To add insult to injury, the “thief” is sometimes beaten by grocery security, who also look the other way as some shoppers help themselves with a jab or two at the alleged shoplifter.
Legally, the President has painted himself into a corner, since these alleged bad eggs in the police force presumably have court dates to keep under pain of arrest if they do not show up before the judge—unless of course each of them has filed a waiver and again presuming that each of them has a defense lawyer.
Subpoenas will have to be served on these supposed undesirables in the police force even if they are in faraway Basilan, making it atrociously expensive for the government to comply with the law.
Malacañang could not possibly stop these alleged bad eggs from honoring the writs, but if it did, would make the President a lawbreaker.
Apparently, the President has thrown all caution to the winds, hinting that he could not care less if the “rogue” policemen came back dead from their two-year assignment in Basilan and elsewhere in Mindanao.
Meaning, serving subpoenas is just a waste of time because these policemen could already be dead by the time the writs are served on them.
It is likely that these “bad eggs” indeed would be coming back to Manila in body bags.
They are policemen—they are not terrorist hunters—they are trained to run after thieves, robbers, rapists, murderers.
The job of fighting the Abu Sayyaf and other jihadist groups—this was the marching order of the Commander in Chief to the allegedly rotten policemen—belongs to members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
They would already be dead even before they set foot in Mindanao.
Not to worry because there are more “rogue” policemen on the list of De la Rosa and the President.
Meanwhile, the Abu Sayyaf Group probably is already salivating at the sitting ducks arriving in, perhaps, Mamasapano, and other battle zones.
Mr. President, please stop the possible massacre of these clueless policemen by making them face the law for the crimes that they allegedly committed and have been charged with.
That is the justice that we want to be served to the people, one that is made to run its course, not justice that takes a shortcut to please the presidency.