The Puppet Show

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A practical police officer once said, “A disciplined patrolman possesses that indefinable something which makes him responsive to order and authority.

Probably the most common conception of discipline is in terms of punishment. To the average person, the word “discipline” carries a connotation of arbitrary and severe enforcement of rules and regulations laid down by those in authority.

This very narrow conception involves force or external influence and is based on the theory that compliance is obtained by the use of punishment or fear of penalties. This is only partially true, as the use of punishment for the breach of rules and regulations, neglect of duty, or general incompetence, is only one phase of the problem.

In the Philippines, incidents of crime and violence involving policemen are usually treated as individual acts of misbehavior and are attributed to the idea that there are a few “bad apples” in every barrel.

Terms like “scalawags” and “erring policemen” are commonly used to describe cops who have broken the law. The fact is, these events are commonplace and indicate a much deeper problem, as well as a complete refusal of the senior leadership to treat the situation with the seriousness it deserves.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the way our policemen think. There is clearly a difference, in their minds, between the official “by the book” way and the “this is how we really do it” way.

The average policeman truly seems to believe that anything goes, that planting evidence, gunning down cell phone snatchers, and protecting other crooked cops, is accepted and even condoned within their institution.

Think about how this actually works. A policeman, or a group of policemen, makes an arrest, brings the subject to the police station and locks him up, and then conducts business-style negotiations with the subject or his relatives, ending with the payment of “bail” and the release of the subject. All going on right inside the police station.

Another situation that makes our heads shake in disapproval is the way our police supervisors or police chief officers discipline our cops as well as those individuals who are said to be criminals and suspects of a certain crime in front of a camera. These police head officers are just like puppets of our government politicians specifically President Rodrigo Duterte.

Being scolded, reprimanded, bawled out, or dressed down for misdemeanor, misconduct or commission of a crime is not part and parcel of their life being in the uniformed service.

Just recently, Police Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar angrily confronted Police Corporal Marlo Quibete who was arrested in an entrapment over an extortion case in front of media and other police officers.

Although police commanders are obliged to maintain discipline among their men and make sure that any wrongdoing is not tolerated, this kind of situation will not probably wipe this kind of criminal acts due to its aspect of public shaming. The cop’s rights were violated when he was humiliated in public even though he tarnished the image of policemen.

Their intentions regarding their actions in public should be according to what is right and lawful and not by aiming for higher ranks or support and praise from our president.

Furthermore, Duterte accused numerous policemen of ingratitude, reminding them that he has doubled their salaries and that he gave them new firearms. He challenged them to stage a coup against his administration.

Whether the officers “pushback” is due to self-interest (many top police officials are amnesty beneficiaries) or just because policemen sincerely feel that their loyalty is to the Constitution.

The police force has always been completely servile to whoever occupies the presidency. This is in full display under the Duterte administration where policemen are the fawning enforcers of the bloody drug war.

The police will stick it out with whoever is president until the tide shifts in favor of a change in power. The police force never creates the tide of change; it merely rides the tide to benefit from the resulting change.

Those police and government puppets are utilized to make the public not be attentive in other, more important societal and political issues. It is just like a theatre show wherein the actions and dialogues are all scripted making the audiences entertained and not be critical in any proceedings.

In this case, the public is sitting pretty and blindfolded with the distraction the government puppets provide, without knowing that they are silently expunging the factual or extent issues in our minds.

In the end, we can all agree that we want to make sure that the people who protect us and enforce our laws are worthy of the high level of trust the public gives them. They should practice maximum tolerance because we seek an ideal Philippine National Police (PNP) organization that will be respectable and honorable down to the last uniformed policemen.

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