Although we didn’t know it, the information that half of our police force had no government issued side arms did not come as a total surprise.
Yesterday’s newspapers were full of stories telling us that President Benigno Aquino 3rd, with the assistance of DILG Secretary Mar Roxas 2nd, presented police officers present at Camp Crame in Quezon City with new side arms.
The Philippine National Police had purchased, through a public bidding, 78,879 Glock pistols at a cost of P1.198 billion. Some 60,000 firearms are now ready for distribution. It is expected that once full delivery is made, all 150,000 policemen and women will have guns.
In the meantime, the question begs itself. What do the policemen and women, who don’t have any government issued service side arms use to fight criminals?
Mr. Aquino in that ceremony announced the meritorious promotion of two police officers, one of whom was Edlyn Arbo, who fought and arrested a hold-up artist with her bare hands. Fortunately, the punk was armed with only a knife when he tried rob the jeepney passenger, but that didn’t make the act less heroic.
The other officer, Felipe Montecar, had a gun, but he bought it himself. He merited the promotion because although alone he managed to arrest several hold-up artists.
Half of the police force, left to their own devices, would have to get their guns by hook or by crook. It is usually by crook, that is, with the help of not-to-willing sponsors, which drives a cop so early in his career to a life of crime.
Now you don’t expect them to fight criminals with sticks and stones, do you?
While the government is at it, it might be a good idea to consider a housing program for the police force. At the moment, most policemen and women live in the slums as do teachers and other low-level government employees.
Of course, you see policemen living in exclusive subdivisions and driving the latest car models, but those are the majors and colonels and other top officers lucky enough to land a position that affords them the opportunity to make oodles of money, by robbing their fellow policemen. They do it by pocketing the money intended to supply the police force with boots, uniforms, and, you guess it, service firearms.
In the meantime, senators and congressmen live high on the hog.
One senator received P1.189 billion in Priority Development Assistance Fund over a four-year period. It is the highest recorded disbursement of a pork barrel allocation to a sesnator.
Each of the 24 senators is entitled to P200 million a year, but that amount could go as high as P800 million, as in the case of the second highest recipient.
The amount received by congressmen—P70 million each—seems penny-ante until you remember 287 honorable men and women make up the House of Representatives. It does add up to a pretty sum.
There is no development though. One is hard put remembering what projects PDAF has funded, unless you mean flashy cars, frequent travels, and, yes, condominiums in New York, for the recipients.
These senators and congressmen are like the vandals who sacked |Rome in the fifth century. The only difference is that they plunder their own country and people, which make them worse.
Unfortunately the malignancy is not confined to the legislature. It has metastasized to GOCCs (government owned and controlled corporations).
Administrator Armand Arreza of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority was reported to have been getting a monthly salary and benefit package amounting to P27 million a month, and that did not include the P15 million intelligence fund, which he could disburse at will without accounting how it was used and for what purpose.
Then again, whatever happened to the Senate investigation of Metropolitan Water and Sewerage System (MWSS)? It was found out two years ago that its board of trustees and officers were getting P384 bonuses and allowances. And to keep the rank-and-file complicit to the crime, it authorized the award of 25 bonuses over and above their monthly salaries and allowances.
Other GOCCs similarly help themselves to the public coffers, with GSIS and SSS, LWUA, NFA, and PNOC among the most notorious.
But to go back to our topic. We congratulate the policemen and women for their new side arms. Now, if they could only aim them at criminals, not at innocent civilians.