Police stories

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    MAY PULIS, may pulis sa ilalim ng tulay…

    The ditty is a satirical flick of the finger at the uniformed sneak preying on unwary motorists for two Osmeñas or a Roxas in exchange of their being let go off some trumped-up traffic infraction.

    Pulis, pulis, pulis matulis.

    Ah, double entendre here: the sharpness of the cop at filching the last Quezon off a hapless victim, and the put-on machismo obtaining in a force whose members purportedly have not just one, but two or more paramours.

    Flash Report: The Philippine National Police holds the record for the quickest response in crime situations, beating such elite police forces as the New York Police Department which registered eight minutes, and Great Britain’s Scotland Yard at five minutes. The PNP registered zero minutes. Impossible? No, they are in the scene, themselves committing the crime.

    Truly, that is a most painful joke – to the national police – that has circled the globe via internet. And just how are the police caricatured? Uniformly: pot-bellied, palm outstretched.

    Tawagin mo na akong demonyo, huwag lang pulis.

    Ah, the unkindest cut of all inflicted upon the PNP in the Inquirer comic strip Pugad Baboy where the comparison to the police provided the final straw that broke the patience of the henpecked Air Force Sgt. Sabaybunot stoking the rage in him to snarl at his domineering wife. Better be called a devil than a policeman, can anything get lower than this?

    Object of ridicule and derision, the police may be the rich lode of all that humor, but the joke is on all of us: victims of the very things we draw laughter from. Doesn’t it hurt to laugh?

    STILL MUCH in currency is that which I first wrote here in Oct. 2007 as rather long intro predicating the subject of then-Chief PNP Sonny Razon’s “Mamang Pulis” program towards the refinement in the physical appearance of cops to “soften the brusque image of the police.”

    Extreme Makeover I titled the piece. All cosmetics, epidermis thick, the program turned out.

    Today, we cannot even afford to laugh at the antics of our police. We are just too terrified.

    Purely personal

    On Feb. 16, 2009, this testimony:

    ADVERSARIAL HAD been my personal and professional dealings with the Pampanga police, from its early Philippine Constabulary persona to its old Integrated National Police incarnation to its present Philippine National Police corpus.

    Sometime in November 1972, it was at the Pampanga PC Command that the student activist with the nom de guerre “Carlos” experienced the dreaded romanza militar – the euphemism for torture during interrogation – in the heavy hands of a Sgt. Pascua even as a Lt. Samuel Tomas took charge of the psycho side.

    It was the good Apu Ceto, then rector of the Mother of Good Counsel Seminary, that plucked his battered, baffled and bewildered ex-seminarian from further harm, and sure detention at the Camp Olivas stockade. This by signing his custody papers with the proviso that should “subject Communist Party member rejoin the movement,” the PC would just arrest and detain the good priest in his stead.

    Ah, how I plotted for years to get even with those PC berdugos. For naught of course, the thirst for revenge quenched by the forgetfulness, if not the forgiveness of time.

    Sometime in the later ’80s, it was at the Pampanga PC-INP Command that Col. Efren Q. Fernandez read in a press conference an “order of battle” that included the names of mediamen allegedly belonging to the propaganda unit of the CPP-NPA, to wit: Elmer Cato, Manila Chronicle; Chandler Ramas, Daily Globe; Jay Sangil, Philippine Daily Inquirer; Sonny Lopez, Malaya; Bong Lacson, People’s Journal/Tonight.

    Raising hell with the Ilonggo EQ, a kasimanwa of my wife, I learned that his intel officer provided him with our names based on a list they found during a raid of the offices of the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL). Yeah, it was the attendance sheet at a press conference the AMGL held a few days prior to the raid that certifi ed us mediamen as CCP-NPA propagandists. That’s how intelligent the intelligence officers of that era were.

    That was no joking matter though as our being branded as CPP-NPA agit-prop agents could have primed us for termination with extreme prejudice by some ultra-rightist military forces.

    Indeed, Cato, Lopez and Lacson were marked for liquidation – not by elements of the Pampanga PC-INP though but by the right-wing vigilantes of an Army colonel then engaged in a war of attrition with the urban partisan unit of the NPA, the Mariano Garcia Brigade.

    Cato lived to be third secretary at the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, Lopez to be public affairs manager of the Clark Development Corp., and Lacson to be editorial consultant and columnist of Punto! by the grace of God, the intercession of our saints, and the intervention of friends in the police force, notably the Angeles City Metropolitan District Command under Col. Amado T. Espino, Jr. and the 174th PC-INP Coy under Maj. Roman Lacap, and our patron, furniture magnate Pert Cruz.

    Award

    February 10, 2009, on the very day of my birthday, I received a letter from the Pampanga Police Provincial Office inviting me to its celebration of the 18th founding anniversary of the PNP on Feb. 16 – today – as “one of the awardees on the said occasion in recognition of your valuable and unrelenting support towards the Pampanga police force.”

    Wow! What have I done to merit this?

    Insofar as I know, nothing has changed with my adversarial stance toward the police, criticizing them no end for faults and failures, both perceived and real – as we do now on the Angeles City police office for the unsolved high profile killings, as we did on PD Keith Singian himself on the Capitol siege.

    Of course, we did commend the police too for job well done – as in too many instances of crime solutions, prevention, even promotions.

    By being true to the journalist’s calling, of being both adversarial and advocate, I am now getting this – my first ever – award from the police?

    As I know that I have not mellowed a bit, maybe, just maybe, it is not me but the police that has changed stance after all these years.

    Yeah, the police see media criticism now under the light of critical collaboration rather than destructive damnation. Else, my name would not have entered their mind for this award.

    Here’s a snappy salute to you Sirs.

    AND THEN last year, one SPO-something Jimmy Santos slapped me – as editor – along with the veteran writer Ding Cervantes with a libel case based on a Punto story related to illegal drugs.

    Our pre-trial at RTC-Guagua is on Feb 8.

    Back to square one, so I sing again pulis, pulis, pulis…




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