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‘Kalakaran’ in the police force

On television, the furious chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) snatched the ballcap off PO1 Eduardo Valencia’s head and threw it down, grabbed the towel he was holding to his face and tried to get him to face the camera—evidently in an effort to expose him to the public glare and thereby to humiliation. But Valencia appeared not so much shamed as frightened of the seething NCRPO chief, Director Guillermo Eleazar. The rookie cop from the police station in Sampaloc, Manila, was said to have forced a 15-year-old into having sex in exchange for the release of her parents whom he had earlier arrested on drug charges. To the fire of the crime he added potent fuel: a claim that such behavior was nothing extraordinary in relation to the campaign against illegal drugs, that it was the kalakaran—SOP—in the police force.

It’s likely that more people would believe than doubt Valencia’s claim. The war on drugs has become a cesspool, after all, breeding all manner of slime. Eleazar’s anger notwithstanding, the readiness with which the wretched Valencia trotted out his perceived defense illustrates the sense of impunity that permeates the police force, the perverted sense of entitlement that the police badge and uniform bring. Many will agree that it’s another one of the evils spawned by Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law, which vested in the military and police more power than they should have been allowed—an evil still extant after all these years, helped along by the incumbent regime.

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Valencia, along with his ilk, thrives in this culture, which is nourished by brute misogyny and profound classism: that girls and women, particularly and especially from the impoverished class, are there to do with as they please. He did not reckon with the 15-year-old’s mother, who filed a complaint instead of conveniently hunkering down and waiting for the storm to blow over.

Eleazar encourages the mother’s posture, saying in an Inquirer report that drug suspects thus victimized should speak out. He cites sufficient proof of Valencia’s guilt although he says the supposed kalakaran is “not rampant” in the Philippine National Police.

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But the Center for Women’s Resources has presented pertinent statistics covering the period since July 2016, when the Duterte administration came to power: 56 police officers involved in 33 reported cases of abuse against women, including 16 cases of rape. Of the 33 cases of abuse, 13 were committed against girls aged 17 and younger; 12 were related to the war on drugs—that is to say, the abuse was committed against drug suspects or their family members.

The PNP spokesperson huffs that the CWR data constitute fake news. It’s a laughable accusation to level at a research institution that has been engaged in local, regional and global research studies on women’s issues, including violence against women, for 36 years.

Surely police abuse against women occurs anywhere in the world? But any observer attentive to the dynamics of the society in which we now live will note how the President’s abrasive attitude toward women, his utter disregard for women’s dignity, the insulting language he employs when referencing women, whether prominent (Sen. Leila de Lima, for example) or on the margins (New People’s Army rebels) are fostering a sexualized culture that produces the likes of Valencia and encourages abusers and rapists in the police ranks.

Malacañang’s “joke only” explanation of the President’s shocking statements on women has become rote; the way his spokespersons and explainers behave, it’s as if they are also debasing their mothers, wives, sisters and daughters—and the sons they are, or should be, raising to be upright and true.

Filipinos must bestir themselves and try mightily not to be inured to the vulgarity.

It does not help that, but for the expected protest from certain groups, silence generally meets the constant barrage of misogyny emanating from on high. That once outspoken woman, for example, the feminist manqué Pia Cayetano, is too engrossed in consolidating a political dynasty to be bothered.

The efforts of PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde, of Eleazar, and of other responsible police officers to keep their men on the straight and narrow are tremendously hampered.

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TAGS: column, Manila police, NCRPO, opinion, Rape
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