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Thuggery and rape in the PNP

Tumbas Manipis
by John A. Bello

Thuggery in all places has no place in civilized society and more so if the ones doing it are members of the Philippine National Police. And it is not a question of if as it seemingly has become a standard operating procedure for them to get the upper hand over their victims who are mostly suspected of crimes while these cops are literally armed with their guns as persons in authority mandated to enforce the law. These cops who are mostly PO1s (Police Officer 1) or in the starting block of their career in the police hierarchy usually do their tricks of using force and intimidation, just like the ordinary thugs, to force their way to their suspected victims – extorting money from street vendors or doing ‘hulidap’ (the victim is arrested on any invented charges while being forced to cough up money) on traffic violators or planting shabu on a suspect to pin him down.

Recently, these low-ranking cops have resorted to rape in exchange of their victim’s freedom.

A news report identified PO1 Severiano Montalban and PO1 Jayson Portuguez, both of QCPD’s Novaliches Police Station who allegedly molested a woman who was arrested over illegal gambling charges. Montalban is accused of raping Maria, an assumed name, while Portuguez allegedly ordered Maria to perform other sexual acts on him. Both did what they did in exchange of the victim’s freedom.

Earlier, a certain PO1 Valencia brought a 15-year old girl – a daughter of a suspected drug pusher - to a motel and raped her in exchange of her parent’s freedom.

This PO1 Valencia was reported to have said to NCRPO Director Eleazar: “Sir, may pamilya po ako. Sir, hindi na po bago sa’ting mga operatiba ‘yung ganun kapag may nahuhuli po tayong drug pusher, sir”.

The PNP is apparently being emboldened by the pronouncements of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte especially in his war on drugs campaign to rid the country of illegal drugs. Duterte has vowed early on in his administration to support and protect policemen in their anti-drug operations such that he even told them to shoot at the drug suspects first and ensure they are dead before the latter shoot them.

Thus ‘nanlaban’ (fought in resistance) was born in police parlance to rationalize the police doing the suspects in to silence them. If this is not what is termed as ‘extra-judicial killing’ then what is it?

Pres. Duterte has placed on the police the heavy burden of responsibility of deciding on what to do about the arrested illegal drug suspects which usually ended up caressing the iron grills in jail or as what happened to the rampant of such cases, they ended up dead in the very hands of the supposed law enforcers who, in a saner, more civilized society, should have enforced the constitutionally provided due process of the law which means, to file a case against the suspect, give him the chance to rebut the charges filed against him in a civil court of law duly mandated to hear such case and for court of law to render a decision based on evidence and not on any concocted, ridiculous version by the police.

The police under the Duterte administration has become almost the chief enforcer of right and wrong, of life and death of the people who happened to get in their path. Given such vast power, no doubt the police from the top down to the bottom of the rank and file will run roughshod with the law and heavens help the civilian suspects who get in the way of the police.

There are exception of course in any organization even in the police force, but they are few and far between such that they are a rarity in the police rank and file under the present Duterte administration which has unleashed its bloody war on drugs that has claimed more than 24,000 deaths of mostly poor and petty drug suspects, the image of the entire police organization can only be tainted, tarnished and gone to the dogs.

The thuggery and rape of the Philippine National Police if it is not stopped soon enough will just continue unabated under the Duterte administration which has much to answer for as it is most accountable for its becoming a monstrosity no different from the criminals it has sworn to go after in pursuit of its mandate ironically to enforce the law on peace and order in society. If the police will go rogue, it will have lost its mandate to enforce the law and having lost its legal mooring, who will then guard the hapless civilians from their supposed guardians who have turned into thugs engaged in criminal enterprise?