THE penalty should be harsher for offenders who are law enforcers and lawmakers.
Even if law-breaking enforcers and lawmakers comprise a tiny percentage in their respective organizations, they tarnish the image of the institution and consequently contribute to a decline in public trust. It gives a perception of a breakdown in law and order.
In recent years, major scandals have rocked the legislative branch and the police organization primarily involving abuse of power.
Some senators and congressmen were brought to court for abusing their power to appropriate funds through the multi-billion-peso “pork barrel” scam. High-ranking police officers went beyond their role of protecting the people from crimes and turned out either as protectors of criminals or as perpetrators of crimes themselves.
Persons who make laws for others to follow should be the first to follow the laws they make, and they should not even try to alter them to their needs and convenience or break or go beyond or against the law.
Lawmakers and law enforcers should set a good example to others. It is like having a teacher who insists punctuality should be punctual.
When lawmakers and law enforcers are behaving more like a gang of lawbreakers, when they take advantage of their positions to broker illegal deals with lobbyists and criminals, we are in big trouble.
The problem becomes even more serious when you have the head of the organization tolerating the abuses of their subordinates or absolving them of any liability for their brutal acts.
In the Duterte administration’s aggressive war on drugs, many policemen seem to be acting with absolute impunity. While President Duterte has said on various occasions that he is against criminality, he has somehow encouraged the police to be brutal for as long as they can justify that they were after criminals who tried to fight back.
It is like giving the police a free pass to violate the rights of individuals—just so long as they find evidence of a “crime.” It’s like allowing a situation for law enforcers to legally act illegally to bust people for possessing arbitrary substances.
In many recent situations, the police, whose duty it is to maintain law and order even at the risk of losing their own lives, seem to have made a decision to enforce their version of the rule of law even if it means putting at risk the lives of those very people whom they are supposed to protect from lawless elements.
Many times they use methods of deception, intimidation and manipulation to go around the restrictions of the law. In other words, policemen routinely break the law—in letter and in spirit—in the name of enforcing the law.
The police can lie under oath, plant evidence, falsely charge people with “resisting arrest” or “assaulting an officer,” and commit other blatantly illegal acts, knowing full well that their fellow gang members—officers, prosecutors and judges—will almost never hold them accountable for their crimes.
This kind of blatant display of impunity has been demonstrated in many of the 6,000 or so killings of suspected drug personalities.
At the start of his administration, Duterte named five police generals, three of them on active duty and two retired, as protectors of the illegal drugs trade. They were former Region 6 Director Bernardo Diaz, former NCRPO Director Joel Pagdilao, former QCPD Director Edgardo Tinio, retired Chief Superintendent Vicente Loot, who is now mayor of Daan Bantayan in Cebu, and former Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo.
Garbo has been implicated in the recent kidnap-slaying of Korean business executive Jee Ick-joo. Two other police officers—SPO3 Ricky Sta. Isabel and Supt. Rafael Dumlao—have been tagged in the case.
They are just some of the many police officers facing allegations of serious crimes.
A culture of highhandedness and brutality seems to have become entrenched in our police force. And this culture encourages the members of the institution to disregard the law and act on behalf of vested interests—the interests that in the first place had facilitated their recruitment. So instead of abiding by the law, the politicized police force serves the vested interests of its political masters.
Because recruitment to the police force is done on political grounds, very little attention, if at all, is paid to their proper training. So, one can hardly expect anything other than such a gung-ho gun culture from an untrained and politicized police force.
This administration must show its sincerity in combating crime by busting criminal syndicates and applying the harshest penalties on criminals within the police force.
Indeed, one bad cop ruins the entire organization. But when there are too many bad cops in the organization, how can the public feel secure?
People look at that one bad cop and assume, sometimes correctly (especially in this case, where several other officers were found to be committing serious crimes), the entire organization to be corrupt and committing similar or worse acts.
Laws are supposed to make men behave sincerely, to observe discipline. Laws must be enforced equally, not selectively. Makers and enforcers of the law must have a higher obligation to obey, and not take advantage by breaking the law.