Friday, 7 January 2011

Enforcing the Enforcers

Read an interesting article here on In a nutshell, a live-in couple will be filing charges against a police officer for alleged rape on the woman.

If this is true - and I believe it is still too early to pass judgment - then this could decrease even further the already-low opinion of the general public (source: just ask the person beside you next time) towards our law enforcement officers. Anecdotal tales of police bribing abound in almost every major city in the Philippines that I've been to. In fact, I have already heard of something akin to a "pricing system" with regards to bribery costs! There are yet more stories about law enforcement officers being overly harsh or abusive, as well as being famously corrupt in as many ways as one could be corrupt. Now this presents a very large problem, something that should scare us out of our wits: if we cannot trust our law enforcers, then who can we turn to?

In my opinion, this problem stems from us, the general public of the Philippines.

Firstly, we do not expect much from our cops. This should change. We should expect them to be paragons of law-abiding (even if they're not) in the way that a lesser has a certain expectation of a superior; the superior would be compelled to live up to that standard or risk humiliation from a lesser. Of course, on the side of the police officer, he or she must be willing to accept that he is - not by choice, but by uniform - automatically an example to the general citizenry. Whether or not he accepts this is not the point; he or she must understand that much is expected from him/her, and that the fate of our society vis-a-vis law enforcing and law abiding rests partly on his/her highly accountable shoulders (and the badges attached on them too). In this news report, I am sure (if you have been in the Philippines for a while) that you quickly passed a judgment of "Well, the cops here are really just like that". See? They become what we expect them to be!

Secondly, we already have this mentality that birds of a same feather flock together. In certain examples, I concede; it is a generally well-accepted fact that people of the same creed, interest, or passions do tend to gravitate towards each other. In cases such as in the news report, it was sad - though wholly predictable and rather expected - that the couple felt that the police officers would cover each other's backs. It is difficult to deny that fraternal relationships do produce that sort of relationship between the individuals in said certain group; heck, even in Skittlez, we cover for each all the time. However, law enforcers are expected (there we come full circle to 'expectations') to be impartial upholders of the law, with a certain familiar credo ringing in their ears, ideally: The law applies to all, or none at all. Private citizens, such as yourself and I, should not have to fear law enforcers covering up crimes just because they happen to wear the same uniforms or once swore the same oaths. It shouldn't have to work that way. I believe that if a police officer is wrong, then he or she is wrong; his/her colleagues should in fact be expected to be the first to condemn the law-breaking; after all, their comrade-in-arms broke the same oaths and promises they made, and disgraced the same uniform they wear. In so saying, I think we can help the police force become a much more efficient one by treating their individuals officers as individual units of a larger organization, and not clump them in the "all cops are crooked" category.

Third and finally, we simply need to be a lot more hard-line towards our police force. Perhaps we have built both a low expectation and a tendency to generalize them because the bad apples in the law enforcement basket know that the general public (us) are relative suckers to a little bit of Chewbacca defense (also more popularly known as 'a red herring'). This is simply because bad cops (or good cops gone bad, for that matter) are not made examples of enough; it sounds harsh, and in a sense, authoritarian, but if our police officers know that severe repercussions will arise on the instance that they forget (or forgo) their respective mandates, then I believe they will be less likely to turn into the proverbial bad apples. The truly nasty ones in the police force should be made public examples; hard and desperate measures are called for in hard and desperate times. The times certainly call for it, if such a negative image of our national police force is already the norm in our country. How can our 'disciplinarians' correct us, when some of them suffer from lack of discipline themselves? It's a simple, but vicious cycle.

Going back to the news article, if the cop truly did something against the law (rape is pretty high on the list of not-to-do-to-citizens) then his colleagues are bound - nay, expected - by law and us, the citizens of this state, to be arrested, tried in a court of law, and subsequently receive due and fair punishment. If, however, he is innocent after all, the alleged victims should then face justice themselves. In both cases, it is imperative that our law enforcement agencies understand that they have complete and total control as to how the general public perceives them. The bad rep did not come from thin air, but I truly believe it is not too late for them - and indeed, all of us who may have been guilty of regrettable mistakes - to turn over a new leaf, especially in a new year.



  1. LOL. A lot of expectations there, but seriously, all I can say is this: realistically speaking, considering the status of said couple, nothing could be expected from the police.

    It has always been like that, & personally, I do consider your opinion but I think it's a bit more deeper than that. I think the problem with the force we are facing right now is something like of a caste system. I mean, we cannot expect anything from the police force if we are already categorizing ourselves outside the circle of service to which a police is entitled to do. Do you get what I mean? It's like, how do we, or I myself, expect something from a police when I'm already putting into mind that the police force tend to be of more service to "higher" people. The article did say the couple were vendors.

    In short, it's more of a psychological-thing, or somewhat like a social norm-thing. I believe everybody has that same mindset.

  2. I see you point. Yes, I have to agree with the fact that from personal experience, our police force moves "much faster" when members of the upper rungs of society are the ones who ask of their services.

    As with my point about expectations and grouping them immediately without any proof yet that they are 'bad cops', I suppose that is the social norm that you speak of? I know that my three points are highly theoretical and quite possible, impractical to implement right now, but I believe that we as the general public need to accept a large part of the burden known as our national police force. We made it, in more ways than we know.