Gone to the dogs
Finally appearing before the Senate committee on peace and order Tuesday after having previously snubbed its summons, Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima admitted the widespread corruption in the PNP, said he was “ashamed” of this state of affairs, and vowed to correct the situation regardless of who’s involved: “Hinding-hindi po ako papayag na magkakaganun. Hindi na uubra ang mag modus operandi nila, ‘yan ang pinatigil ko at patuloy kong babantayan kahit sino man ang tamaan.”
Spoken like lines from a bad action movie. True to his public disposition so far of evading specifics and taking refuge in platitudes, Purisima’s ham-fisted promise treats the rampant criminality currently terrorizing our streets as largely a public-relations problem that can be remedied by stentorian, properly modulated statements from the top cop.
But it’s not going to work. Purisima’s detached, lackadaisical approach to his work seems only to have emboldened criminal syndicates to declare the current rudderless environment open season for kidnapping for ransom, car theft, “hulidap” and the like—with many such crimes pulled off in cahoots with or under the leadership of cops themselves. According to a special report run in this paper’s Metro pages, the kidnapping of Chinese Filipinos is on the rise again: 18 in 2012, 26 in 2013 and 28 as of last August. Koreans have also been popular targets. And ordinary Filipinos everywhere have had to endure daily street crimes from snatching to theft by common lowlifes, along with the extortion activities of lowlifes of an upper rank—those with uniforms, police badges and guns.
Just last week, members of the Manila Police District’s anti-car theft section were in hot water after a Pakistani casino financier came forward to accuse them of robbing him following the bogus charge that four of his cars were listed as stolen vehicles. The Pakistani said he and a Chinese friend were threatened that they would be charged with kidnapping if they didn’t cough up P300,000, which dropped to P100,000 after some requisite haggling. The alleged culprits? The chief of the anti-car theft section, Senior Insp. Rommel Geneblazo, and seven of his men, or practically the entire section. On the day they were ordered arrested by MPD Director Rolando Asuncion, the section’s office became a deserted space.
Meanwhile, as though to illustrate that police officers can also be generous and helpful toward people who tickle their fancy, a starlet-model posted on her Facebook page (since taken down) her profuse thanks that she was again able to beat color-coding raps on the strength of a business card of the PNP director for plans, Chief Supt. Alexander Ignacio, at the back of which he had written the instructions: “Please assist my EA, Alyzza Agustin.”
“Thank you so much sa napaka useful mong card with matching dedication pa,” Agustin had written. No explanation yet from the PNP whether the model, among 2013’s 100 Sexiest Women in the World according to men’s magazine FHM, is actually in its employ as Ignacio’s “executive assistant.”
But there was Purisima in the Senate, boldly declaring, in the face of the panorama of breakdown and rot his organization is experiencing: “Hinding-hindi po ako papayag na magkakaganun.” Huh? He has been PNP chief since December 2012. He’s not an upstart in the job, he has had nearly two years to effect changes—if he had the will and the gumption for it. The subtext of his odd future-tense statement seems to be that, from now on, having learned from the brickbats his poor performance has garnered, he will do better.
Again, that will not do. His abysmal track record in going after criminals and in cracking down on his erring men does not inspire confidence in the public. At this point, it only contributes to the widespread sense that law and order in the land has gone to the dogs. The Inquirer special report detailing the notorious kidnap-for-ransom cases of years ago and similar incidents just this year confirms that the safety and freedom of ordinary citizens from fear, harassment and violence by often well-connected criminals remain a dicey proposition—thanks to a lousy police force and a justice system that takes years, even decades, to mete out punishment for heinous crimes.
If this unending blight is to be stopped, it must start with a capable, aggressive and far-sighted leader at the top.
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