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PNP apologizes for tarp calling teachers potential predators

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
PNP apologizes for tarp calling teachers potential predators
Photo shows a tarpaulin bearing the logo of the Philippine National Police that identifies teachers, among others, as potential rapists.
Teachers' Dignity Coalition on Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police apologized to teachers who may have been offended by a tarpaulin put up in Sorsogon province as part of the information drive against sexual abuse and that included teachers among people who could be rapists.

The Sorsogon City Police Station and the Sorsogon City Advisory Council put the tarpaulin up in March.

In a statement sent to reporters Wednesday, Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP chief, branded the move as “discriminatory” and “insulting" and reminded cops to be considerate about how their actions affect the community.

“While I fully understand that the intention of the information drive is noble, it is clearly discriminatory and insulting to our teachers who have been working hard especially in this time of pandemic and who have been serving as the second parents of our children,” Eleazar said.

The police chief promised that Sorsogon City police officials would be made to explain why they shouldn't be sanctioned for the incident, adding that postings, whether tarpaulins or those posted on social media, should always be reviewed thoroughly.

“For my part, I personally apologize to our teachers and you can hope that we will correct this mistake. May this incident serve as a lesson to our policemen to think carefully and be sensitive," Eleazar also said, adding that "an apology was also made by the Sorsogon City Police Station."

Teachers slam PNP tarpaulin

In a statement issued Tuesday night, the Teachers' Dignity Coalition slammed the poster, saying it was hurtful to their profession whose main purpose is to teach and take care of children.

"We condemn the actions of the Sorsogon City Police and the Sorsogon Advisory Council in setting an example for the Maestro as potential rapists. We teachers are entitled to high respect and we uphold our dignity," said Romel Lleva, a principal in Sorsogon and also president of TDC-Bicol in mixed English and Bicolano.

"Given the number of professions or employment lines, why is the teacher singled out as a potential rapist? How would our police brothers feel if they were identified in a DepEd module as an example? of bad people? It hurts too, doesn't it? So we have to be careful with statements especially in public."

Lleva added that the group would personally write to Eleazar asking for clarification over the incident. 

Eleazar said that according to Police Col. Art Brual, Sorsogon Police Provincial Office Chief, the tarpaulins have since been removed.

Local police, he said, also coordinated with officials from the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education "to discuss the matter."

The PNP chief said he hoped the incident would not adversely affect the ties between police officers and teachers. 

“Teachers have long been with us in our peace and order advocacies and I sincerely hope that this lapse in judgment on the part of some of our personnel will not serve as a setback in our long-standing partnership towards a peaceful and responsible community. citizenship,” he said.

Not the first time

The PNP's social media gaffes, particularly over the coronavirus pandemic, are well documented. 

In June 2020, the PNP came under fire for posting content that blamed victims of sexual harassment for their being harassed.

Earlier this year, it also posted content that implied that community pantries were linked to communist rebels. 

Each time, the agency's leadership promised to review its social media protocols moving forward. 

As it currently stands, a number of official PNP pages continue to host graphics and other content red-tagging activists and elected lawmakers alike. 

READ: QCPD social media team gets 'reminder' for linking community pantries to rebels

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