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EDITORIAL - Special protection

Two police officers face dismissal from the service for serving as bodyguards of Diane Yu Uy, daughter of Taiwanese drug trafficking convict Yu Yuk Lai. Taxpayers have been providing Uy with bodyguards since 2010 upon her request after she and her daughter were reportedly kidnapped in 2006.

At the time, Yu Yuk Lai had already gained notoriety not only as a drug trafficking queen but also for making a mockery of justice, spending much of her prison time in private hospitals and being caught at least once in a casino. Any cop assigned to guard Yu’s daughter and granddaughter had to be living on another planet not to know this. Yet that is what the Philippine National Police would have the public believe, in approving the PNP security detail for Diane Uy.

Police Officer 3 Walter Vidal, Uy’s bodyguard since 2013, and PO2 Faisal Abdullah Sawadjaan, security escort since 2010, also do not deserve to be cops if they couldn’t recognize shabu in the possession of their subject. The two cops were apprehended together with Uy in a raid on her home near Malacañang by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. Also raided was Yu Yuk Lai’s cell at the Correctional Institution for Women where more shabu was found. No wonder the PNP was incapable of making these arrests.

Now the PNP is said to be reviewing its police protection program for civilians. About 400 members of the Police Security Protection Group are assigned to private individuals and another 300 to government officials. The bodyguards have been recalled, except those assigned to certain lawmakers.

It’s not the first time that police bodyguards have been recalled. Assignments are usually changed during election periods and when scandals erupt involving police security escorts. The case of Diane Uy should lead to an overhaul of the system for assessing requests for police protection. The PNP is tasked to keep the general public safe, and not just the privileged few who can afford to give each police bodyguard additional pay of P1,000 a day.

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