‘Cop comedy’ ain’t funny anymore
Polite proposal: The concept of maturity must include a corresponding scale of how one grows to perceive the police.
As toddlers and pre-adolescents, it’s okay to look up to the police in awe and/or with fear, depending on whether you grew up hearing “Lagot ka, may pulis o!” or “My father is a policeman!”
As teenagers coursing through high school and college, along with the rapid and minute realizations that the world often lies to you and that life wouldn’t be as easy as you thought it would be also comes the maturity of seeing the police as not, in fact, the most law-abiding persons in society, or that they are uniformly working for everyone’s betterment.
On your way to Baguio for a Dota tournament, you might get shot in the back by police officers. Check out what they did to Joshua Laxamana. Or, perhaps, while begging to be released so you could study for your exam, they shoot you thrice—two bullets to the head and one to the back, like what was done to Kian delos Santos.
If you’re lucky, you graduate from school and find employment. At this stage, you start to see that many of the things you create, much of the work you enjoy, the positive acts you do for yourself and for others, do not involve the police and even prosper with the lesser and lesser presence of state forces.
Approaching your 30s, you begin to understand that the world works in systems and that these systems interact. Many of these systems are locked in spirals, tumbling and plummeting toward entropy, and one of the right questions to ask in imagining a better world to live in is whether a police force actually makes sense. It’s the police that serve as enforcers and protectors of the ruling order, making sure the status quo never ever changes and that such destructive social cycles are never broken.
The problem of police brutality and incompetence is massive and cultural. When “police reform” and other legal reproaches have been tried and have proven to be miserable failures, then perhaps the solution does not lie in the government whose functions are intertwined so tightly with the police. When, year in and year out, cops being required to lose weight becomes a comedic talking point in media — side-by-side with snide remarks about their routine incompetence, their cheap gimmicks, their incoherent excuses for “lack of coordination” with other law enforcement outfits, their crimes and misdemeanors, the thousands who have died in their hands—then it’s clear that we’ve somehow learned to acquiesce to the police just being the way they are.
But, following our naivete, we often excuse ourselves from the task of viewing the police with critical eyes by recounting one or two incidents where a cop or two fulfilled some bare minimum of their jobs.
We can think big, however, and ponder why, under this administration, the lowest ranking police officer now earns much more than teachers, doctors, and nurses. Economics, the power of the purse, is one way to give meaning to the interactions that glue us; what part do whopping budgets for the police play? It is only against this vast backdrop that we can ask what it means for conscripted nonpolitical civil servants “to serve and protect,” because, apparently, law enforcers these days require huge allowances and so much largesse from and mollycoddling by the state to be expected to do their jobs.
We must earnestly think about what the police means in our everyday lives, because there is hardly any sense in giving guns and fearsome power to the kind we have today. Should we realize a truly progressive society one day, where each segment fulfills its role and is justly provided for, I am afraid there would be no more use for the police. Why? They would have no one to run after. Who in their right minds, after all, would want to be criminals?
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DLS Pineda holds an undergraduate and master’s degree in creative writing from the University of the Philippines Diliman.
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