What should we make of the recent announcement by Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine National Police, that they have dismissed from the service 584 errant personnel in the short span of one year?
Is this good news or is it bad news?
It’s both good and bad, from where we sit.
It’s good because the main law enforcement arm of the national government has gotten rid of hundreds of misfits who failed to live up to the mission of the PNP to serve and protect the citizenry.
It’s bad because, in fact, it masks an even more disturbing pattern of wrongdoing within the police force.
In fact, last year, according to Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., a total 2,635 police personnel were slapped with various penalties after being found administratively liable for violating PNP rules and regulations and/or involvement in criminal activities.
It’s bad because the big number of personnel charged with wrongdoing reflects gaps in the PNP’s recruitment process that have allowed the unqualified and the incompetent to abuse their authority and give the institution a bad name.
The top cop cited a report from the PNP Directorate for Personnel and Records Management that of the 584 dismissed police personnel, 321 went AWOL, 42 used illegal drugs, 15 failed to attend court duty, and 20 committed violence against women.
The rest were implicated in cases of murder, homicide, vehicle theft, illegal drugs, robbery, extortion, and rape.
Meanwhile, a total 164 personnel were demoted in rank, 1,225 suspended, 456 reprimanded, 117 handed down salary forfeiture penalties, 26 restricted to quarters, and 63 denied privileges.
The PNP is correct in pointing out that in the over-all scheme of things, errant personnel are only a handful of the 160,000 or so cops throughout the country, and therefore not reflective of its institutional integrity.
After all, we assume that the majority of cops are doing their jobs and fighting criminality despite limited resources.
The PNP has reported a “significant decrease in both index and non-index crime incidents, as well as the eight focus crime categories and eight special complex crimes” compared to 2021.
Nevertheless, we think the police leadership should leave no stone unturned in keeping the entire organization disciplined and fully aware of their responsibility to adhere to due process, uphold the rule of law and protect human rights.
It may be true that, as the proverb says, “seeing one or two black crows doesn’t mean the whole flock is black.”
But one rogue cop is too many in a country where law enforcers must protect the lives and property of no less than 110 million Filipinos—and still growing as we speak.