Police, at your service
Five years. That’s a lot longer than all the relationships I’ve had. I’m guessing me and government service are working out fine.
In a few days, I am going to celebrate, along with the other 372 police officers I call my classmates, our fifth anniversary in the police service. It is one of the traditions of the uniformed force to celebrate the day a class took the oath, because it is also the day that we got married to the government.
The marriage refers to the fact that we no longer have our own time. Our time is managed by the government, which responds to the community that demands our assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The scope of the assistance the Philippine National Police (PNP) can provide seems limitless. When a fire breaks, the police are called. When there is domestic violence, the police are called. When someone dies, the police are called. I cannot think of an incident where the police were not called for assistance.
While we follow a certain duty scheme, that schedule is so flexible that sometimes it can extend to double of what is expected. The schedule is made according to the needs of the community. Holidays and celebrations mean full alert for us, and crimes and disturbances mean extended working periods. There is certainly no definite duty scheme. The work schedule that a police officer enjoys at the moment is temporary and can change any time.
I remember Papa telling us that he did not want us taking courses for jobs that would not allow us to be together during Christmas and New Year. He just wanted a regular eight-hour job that would allow us to spend time with the family after work. But I was so drunk on the idea of taking the road less traveled that I ended up working in a job he did not want for me. In the last five years, I have been home for Christmas only once, and that was because I traded off my assignment with a colleague to render duty in my hometown.
My priorities changed after I took my oath in front of the administering officer. This was no vacation and adventure now, but about giving my best to the community. A call anytime of the day can make me run back to the office.
My understanding of my relationship with the PNP changed when I started to wear the uniform. When people I know see me in uniform, they automatically assume that I know all about guns, crimes, and the proliferation of drugs. The truth is, it took me a year, plus two mandatory courses and a specialized one, to learn what I had to learn. I then understood that people aren’t looking at a neophyte police officer. When they see me wearing the blue uniform with gray stripes, all they know is that I am a police officer and that my primary duty is to serve and protect them.
I am the embodiment of the PNP. Everything I do on and off duty reflects on the government agency I work for. Because I belong to the organization, I am partly responsible for any failures and successes it may have. Every day, being in the service means I have to live by the mission of the organization. But I am not alone in this. I have with me the other 200,000 men and women who have the same relationship with the PNP. Each of us plays a different role for one purpose: to give the community a safer place to live, work and do business in.
In order to do that, we must first earn the trust of the Filipino people. It’s a very challenging task. I show up every day at work and sometimes I feel the need to ask if I am really of help to the organization. One bad news about a cop who indiscriminately fires his gun erases all the good things the other cops have done. There was a time I stopped reading the news and going on social media because of the hurtful words of netizens. It’s frustrating to always try to keep up with the demands of the people but still end up not being good enough.
But, hey, I am just about to celebrate my fifth year in the police service. Admittedly, I have so much more to learn about my work. For one, I have to accept that the job to gain the trust of the public we are here to serve without prejudice, and to protect everyone’s rights, is not a one-man job. It takes collaborative effort, and, honestly, it can’t be done in a short period of time. It would take everyday effort not just by me but also by the rest of the members of the PNP to bring back the dignity of the police service.
I know that by taking the road less traveled, in some way or another, I have made a difference in my community.
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Police Corporal Hercharme D. Demegillo, 27, is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Visayas. She is a member of the PSFTP Class 2016-01 “MABAGSIK” and is currently assigned to the PNP Regional Office 6.
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