"What kind of sick minds are we training to be police officers?"
When it comes to hazing, I thought that I had seen it all.
But that hazing incident a few weeks ago wherein two freshmen or plebe cadets of the Philippine National Police Academy were ordered by their seniors to perform oral sex must be a new low. What was going on in the mind of those seniors to order the plebes to perform such a despicable act?
Department of the Interior and Local Government OIC Eduardo Año was absolutely right in relieving the superintendent outright, to show that such acts will never be tolerated. What kind of sick minds are we training to be police officers? I hope those senior cadets have already been investigated and dismissed from the academy.
Hazing in military and police academies is well known throughout the world. But in the developed countries in the Western world, hazing involving activities that endanger the health of freshmen cadets have been abolished long time ago. Yes, freshmen cadets are still required to undergo humiliating activities but never to the point of physical danger to these freshmen cadets.
In the Royal Military College of Australia in Duntroon and the United Kingdom Military College at Sandhurst, training only lasts for one year because only college or university graduates are recruited for training. There is therefore no opportunity to develop an upper class system that we see in the military and police academies in our country. The United States service academies still maintain four year courses. Up to now, we are still following this. The kind of hazing—if we can even call it that—freshmen go through would not require any hospitalization even if senior cadets go overboard in their treatment of their plebes. For some time now, we have not heard of any hazing scandals from the Philippine Military Academy. Maybe the brutal hazing that went on there in the past has been eliminated and does not happen anymore. We certainly hope so.
Still, the upperclass system is very much alive today. Underclass men will always be that to senior graduates regardless of the ranks of graduates when they retire. This means that we will always see and hear graduates of later years calling graduates of earlier year “sir” regardless of the ranks attained when they retire. The fact that there has not been any hazing incidents publicized in the media could mean that the PMA is slowly adjusting to the 21st century which is a positive sign.
The PNPA should do the same and start reforming quick and fast. Otherwise, it will always be considered a poor clone of PMA—not a very flattering tag. They say that imitation is always the best form of flattery. In the case of PNPA, however, it is a poor imitation. Can you imagine graduates being maltreated if seen and caught during graduation ceremonies? This is a disgusting practice to say the least. Nowhere do we see this practice in any school anywhere in the world. But with the PNPA, it has gone way overboard because the students there appear to have developed practices that are not done anywhere else.
The PNPA must bear in mind that it is a non-military training academy. If there is such a reform to be undertaken in the PNPA, the first to be eliminated should be their parade uniform to distinguish the students from the PMA. Modern crime laboratories should also be set up in the school to ensure that the students will be competent to conduct crime investigation upon graduation. Other needed facilities should also be slowly added until such time that all vestiges of military culture are eliminated once and for all. The destructive upperclass system should be reformed to more socially accepted norms of behavior.
The current police and civilian leadership of DILG should study or consider a 12- or 18-month long training program instead of the current four-year course.
Interestingly, in the first few years of the PNPA’s existence, the school offered a two -year program until it was changed to four years sometime later. The country now has a 12-year elementary and high program which means that those going to university upon graduation would have totaled sixteen years of education which is at par with current world standards. Selected universities could be accredited by the PNPA and from these schools, will come the recruits entering the PNPA to ensure the quality of recruits entering the PNPA is maintained at a high level. With this, the government can save money while at the same time ensuring high quality of training.
The current police leadership must also realize that failure to reform will always ensure a low quality of graduates coming from the PNPA which translates to a low level of police service for the country and public.
Indeed, it is not only the PNPA that is currently experiencing problems. In fact, there is a question of the entire training system that exists in the PNP. The PNP is perhaps the only service in the world that does not handle the training of its own recruits. In other services around the world, assignment of officers and other ranks to a training school is viewed as an honor because only the best and highly competent are assigned to training schools. In our country it is not a well sought-after tour. Some would even consider it as a punishment. So, if the trainers are not the best, what could one expect from the graduates? Not much.
And the longer the PNP leadership waits, the worse the problem gets.