'Isolated incident' narrative questioned after PNP murder of 52-year-old

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
'Isolated incident' narrative questioned after PNP murder of 52-year-old
Philippine National Police chief Guillermo Eleazar escorts Police Master Sergeant Hensie Zinampan at Camp Karingal headed for medical on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Zinampan is the suspect in shooting at point blank range of the 52-year-old Lilibeth Valdez at Sitio Ruby, Fairview in Quezon City on the night of May 31.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The murder of a 52-year-old by a Quezon City cop on Monday has sparked criticisms once again, with the Department of the Interior and Local Government questioning on Tuesday whether or not the incidents are really isolated. 

Speaking in an interview aired over One News PH, Interior Undersecretary Martin Diño called for stricter checkups to ensure police don't abuse their power. 

"We will monitor this case...When the lives of people are involved, we can't keep calling it isolated," he said in Filipino as he encouraged the public to be vigilant about reporting dirty cops to the PNP. 

"This one incident was caught on video, but what about the ones that weren't caught? We have to accept that these should be closely watched."

Since 2016, over 5,000 cops have been dismissed from the Philippine National Police, over 600 of which were for drug-related cases. 

Former vice president Jejomar Binay also questioned the "isolated incident" narrative but said that the outrage directed towards the PNP may be unfair to good cops. 

"Far from being an isolated case, the recent killing [shows] a pattern of abusive and even murderous behavior among some members of the police force. This behavior has of late been more brazen," he was quoted as saying.

"[The PNP] needs to be more vigilant in monitoring and guiding the conduct of the entire police force. It has to be firm in dealing with delinquent and murderous policemen."

READ: 'Isolated incident': Despite Tarlac killings, no policy changes in PNP ahead

PNP chief brushes off criticisms anew 

Despite mounting cases of abuse over the coronavirus pandemic, police leadership continues to assert that only a few dirty cops are tarnishing the reputation of the national police. 

In a statement of his own on Tuesday, Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar claimed that good cops still outnumber dirty ones in the police force. 

“We are serious in pushing for reforms within the police organization. I am exhausting all efforts to get rid of these few police scalawags who put the PNP in a bad light. Just like you, I am angry at rotten cops,” Eleazar said. 

The PNP chief said that while he understands the public outrage, his leadership intends to undertake serious reforms in the organization.

Eleazar directed the Internal Affairs Service to fast-track summary dismissal proceedings against Zinampan while the  Quezon City Police District filed a murder charge against him in the city prosecutor’s office. 

"We believe that more and more of our police remain true to their sworn duty and ready to serve the people," said Eleazar.

Whether or not there are more good cops than bad ones in the police misses the point, as critics and rights groups have long said that the culture of impunity and violence hanging over the PNP organization is a systemic problem. 

Past police chiefs and even President Rodrigo Duterte himself have vowed to protect cops who kill drug suspects. Even in cases of abuse, erring cops were defended.

"Given the mandate imposed on it by the Constitution and the trust extended by society, it is only proper that the PNP is held to a higher standard. It is expected for the PNP to be more rigorous in its screening process," Binay also said. 

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