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FLEA MARKET OF IDEAS

A horrifying police quota system

Instead of cleansing the police force of scalawags, the government’s campaign against crime has been forcing decent and honorable policemen to become rogue cops.

This is happening because of a quota system that requires policemen to make a minimum number of arrests every week. If they fail to make the quota, they’re belittled as “mahina” (wimp), relieved from their positions, and reassigned to inferior posts.

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Former Philippine national police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde denied the existence of a “quota,” but he admitted that cops are constantly “pressured” to make “accomplishments” in the government’s antidrug campaign. Because of this pressure, plus the consequences to their careers, cops are practically driven to meet a quota. Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino was more forthright when he admitted in 2017 that he pressures his regional directors to meet a monthly quota of “30 to 40” antidrug operations.

Because of the terror generated by President Duterte’s bloody antidrug campaign, however, criminals have scampered away, have gone on hibernation, or have made their continuing criminal operations more difficult to detect. As a result, it has become tougher for policemen to make valid arrests. Add to this the fact that many cops do not have the patience to meticulously build up valid evidence against suspects. The catastrophic result is a wholesale massacre of the Bill of Rights of mere suspects, and worse, the arrest of innocent civilians on fabricated criminal charges, because policemen need to show “accomplishments.”

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Word on the ground is that many ordinary policemen are unhappy, even angry, that they’re misused by their superiors to obtain the required statistics of “accomplishments,” which the latter need to retain their posts or to get promoted.

The situation has even gotten worse now because the need to fulfill a quota of accomplishments has been expanded beyond drug cases, but also to illegal gambling, illegal possession of firearms, possession of undocumented forest products, among others. When policemen find nothing illegal, they still arrest the suspects by planting evidence.

There are reports of urban and rural poor individuals who have been arrested for illegal possession of drugs that were planted by policemen, no doubt because of the need to churn out “accomplishments.”

There’s even the particular case of a furniture maker who was raided by policemen on suspicion of harboring undocumented wood. When proper documents were presented to show the source of his gmelina lumber, the police still wanted to arrest him, for sure because he was needed to fulfill their quota of “accomplishments.” It took the vehement objections of municipal and Department of Environment and Natural Resources officials to make the police back off.

There’s also the case of a police provincial director who has “pre-charged” (euphemism for discharge and demotion) hundreds of police officers because they were not able to meet their one-arrest-per-week quota. Because of this warped system, rogue cops are promoted while honest ones are relieved and punished. No wonder we have someone like Albayalde who climbed all the way to the top, only to be exposed as a rogue cop.

These fabricated cases will eventually get dismissed in court. The police do not mind. All that matters to them are the arrests that count as “accomplishments,” and not court convictions. Heartbreakingly, the lives of many innocent individuals are ruined. What a hideous mess we are in when the lives of ordinary Filipinos are reduced to being mere fodder for the “accomplishment” needs of policemen.

Retired military Gen. Jovito Palparan looked invincible while he was in power, even though he was called “The Butcher” because of brutal atrocities attributed to him. He was even commended by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during a State of the Nation Address, was elected as congressman, and even ran for senator. He now languishes in jail after his conviction for the crimes of kidnapping and illegal detention that he committed during his reign of terror.

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Palparan’s story forewarns all policemen that there will be a day of reckoning.

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TAGS: Flea Market of Ideas, Joel Ruiz Butuyan, police quota system, Rogue Cops
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