Several days ago, two disturbing incidents perpetrated by the police were reported in the papers.
One was about a female inmate who was used by the Chief of Police of Hagonoy, Bulacan as his personal masseur. The mother of the inmate later complained that the daughter was also raped by the police officer.
The other was the strip search by the Drug Enforcement Unit of the City of Makati on a man and a woman who were arrested as suspected drug offenders. Police personnel were recorded to be laughing while the strip search was going on.
The actions of those involved in this shameful act was contrary to existing regulations because anytime the police needs to strip search a suspect, this must be done in a private and the one performing the search must be of the same sex. A video was taken of this shocking behavior and was shown on TV by ABS-CBN. Later, those who were involved claimed that the strip search was for demonstration purposes performed by a woman who was paid which even if true is still against regulations.
Both incidents did not make it to the headlines but were the kind of news that really pulls down the image of the Philippine National Police—which currently is not very good to begin with. These should not be happening at all in this day and age. It demonstrates the kind of discipline that exists within the Police organization. That both incidents happened very near the National Police Headquarters also tells us that Police Director General Oscar Albayalde has a very serious disciplinary problem in his hands. Using a female inmate as a personal masseur in one’s office while the door is closed and then her mother complaining of rape is so serious an offense that the Provincial Director was right in relieving the Chief of Police for further investigation. At the very least, the officer should be charged with conduct unbecoming of an officer or grave abuse of authority.
In my early years of service, I use to see inmates being used to cleaning (quarters), cooking and doing laundry for officers and other personnel but that was a long time ago. One would think that the police must have already changed with better discipline, regulations and standard operating procedures but it seems that not much has changed.
If the stripping incident was not caught on video and shown in the evening TV news, the incident would simply have been forgotten. So was the case in Hagonoy. Good thing that the mother of the female inmate had the courage to complain to the Police Provincial Director.
These are just two incidents. How many more similar incidents are happening in more remote areas of the country that do not find their way to news? This is something that General Albayalde should devote a lot more time to correct. If not, all the good deeds that he is doing can easily be blown away by such incidents as these two incidents must already have done to the image of the PNP.
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Although the two reported incidents may be viewed by those involved as insignificant offenses, both does show the kind of culture that exist within the ranks of the PNP and by further extrapolation explain why many police personnel behave the way they do which cannot be good not only to the police organization but to the people that they are supposed to serve. This could also be a symptom of a deeper malaise prevailing within the PNP.
If so, General Albayalde needs to confront this forcefully because the country cannot afford an undisciplined, incompetent and mediocre police force that is full of misfits. What the people need is a police force led by competent, professional and dedicated Corps of Officers who have the interest of the people they serve as their first and primordial reason for being in the police force. This may sound idealistic but without goals like these, the PNP will never be able to achieve the vision that the police organization is aspiring for.
We old fogies do want the current crop of police officers to be better than us who have retired in every way—discipline, competence, dedication and professionalism because if the PNP as an organization is doing well, then we on the retired list will also be part of that success.
But if the PNP today is not doing well and is mired in a lot of controversies not only in the eyes of Filipinos but internationally as well, then we will all look bad.
One of the things that the PNP has not done is to come up with a handbook that will be the guide of anyone joining the PNP from day one up to retirement. This handbook will define behavior, the training that a member must undertake in the course of his or her career, benefits, assignments and other activities that a member is expected to go through in the course of a 35-year service.
Also quite important is a review on how the PNP is recruiting its rank and file. With the large number of personnel being booted out from the police service due to so many cases, maybe the PNP is not recruiting the best available people and not giving them the kind of basic training that guaranties their readiness to perform their police duties competently and professionally upon graduation. If the PNP leadership want improvement in police quality, the recruitment process and the basic recruit training must be upgraded to a much higher level.