Just this last week, protests and riots lit up the streets of Minneapolis after four police officers murdered George Flloyd, an African-American man, by kneeling down on his neck in an attempt to incapacitate him. The police brutality against people of color has been encroached ever since in the United States (US). There is an institutional problem which is not far from what we are facing here in our own country.
In the Philippines, we have our fair share of police brutality cases just this recent month amidst the pandemic. We bore witness to the impunity when a police chief threw a mañanita that violated quarantine protocols. Even so, they were directly left off the hook by the President himself. Last April, a video circulated of a police officer harassing a foreigner because one of his staff was not wearing a face mask while gardening on their lawn. In the same month before this, Winston Ragos, a Marawi war veteran was brutally killed for breaking the quarantine rules, the police alleged that they shot him over self-defense but recently the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) claimed that there is a huge possibility that the gun is planted. Not to mention the sexual harassment in the widely reported sex-for-pass at checkpoints. The Philippine National Police (PNP) responded that the police will investigate if the victims will come out in the open disregarding their safety, and their mental and emotional well being. These cases during the pandemic are just the tip of the ice-berg, the police force is tainted with an age-long history of gruesome and prudent power-tripping. Such as the case where a Korean national was kidnapped, the drug war that led to thousands of extra-judicial killings, Oplan Sauron that caused the death of farmers in Negros and many more.
Police brutality, just like in the US, is indeed an institutional problem but to compare them to PNP is far worse and sinister than Uncle Sam’s Joes. The impunity and the corruption that have been encroached in our institution is gravely disturbing that you begin to question if they are really here ‘to protect and serve’ as their motto alleges. The Filipino people are at the point where they begin to doubt the integrity of the police as they themselves become the criminals hiding behind a badge and a gun. To reform the PNP what we need is not only institutional reforms but the overhauling of the entire government from the judiciary, the legislative and the executive.
As long as the government enacts policies that enable police brutality, impunity and continuously ignore the corruption inside the national police institution, the brutality, the killings, and the impunity will never stop. So in order for the country’s police force to truly fulfil their motto ‘to serve and protect,’ we must collectively resist the current administration and its policies that enable fascism. After that, perhaps the PNP will be able to see the light in the dark tunnel they are in, to be able to fulfil what they are mandated, and dreamt for when they were in their respective academies. For this to happen, we must first eradicate the disease before the recovery, and the improvement.