Exodus or bust

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - December 18, 2020 - 12:00am

Beginning this weekend until next is traditionally the time of the year when many people working and/or living in Metro Manila go on their “Christmas Exodus” to the provinces. It is also the time when bus terminals and seaports or piers are jampacked with travelers all in a rush to get on board. The question is will we see the same and why have we not heard substantial announcements from the DOTr or the IATF regarding the matter? Are they presuming that there will be a travel ban in effect and that people will know better or are they betting on the possibility that most people will simply stay where they are given the cost to test, travel and the risk of getting Covid-19?

To make such assumptions or to delay the necessary announcements would be highly unprofessional and irregular. Given how so many people stampeded out of their homes and into malls the first time quarantine restrictions were lifted, it would be a safe bet to assume that we will still see a lot of people heading out to wherever in the hopes getting a ride or a way out of town. In fact, I already have a couple of invitations to join friends in Baguio City or Subic between Christmas and New Year while business owners have told me that they plan to let employees off early since business is not as hectic this year. Given that the IATF has reportedly approved the return to travel of point-to-point provincial buses, what is seriously lacking are the guidelines to clarify destinations, quarantine and test requirements from each and every local government unit.

My wife and I looked at our usual destinations of choice and the rules were as different as the colors of the rainbow. Some places required Anti-Gen testing only while others required “Triage” and an RT-PCR test. Some limited numbers of persons to a room while others allow immediate family members to be in the same room. But what about the ordinary person who just wants to visit his or her family in the province? Will they be classified under the same group as “LSI” or Locally Stranded Individuals or as “Visitor/Tourist”? Does the LTFRB – PPA – Marina have any idea how many vessels or ferries will be operating and what will their capacities be? I am not being critical but wondering aloud just in case people want to travel already or make last minute decisions to join the annual Christmas exodus. Perhaps this topic should be the next AGENDA of Malacañang when President Duterte addresses the nation or meets his Cabinet before it’s too late.

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Maybe I’ve watch too many “cop shows” on TV but it sure helps to learn stuff that we could adopt or apply to real life. In light of EJK or extrajudicial killings related to President Duterte’s war on drugs, one allegation made before Covid-19 was that some regional or provincial police chiefs were giving “quotas” on their men to neutralize drug dealers. Many have also expressed shock and dismay over the “thousands” who’ve been killed. In their defense, PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana stated that they too have suffered casualties that in fact included some high ranking police officers. That sadly is the reality of modern day wars such as the one against drugs.

In the middle of all these, I was reminded of several cop show episodes where police officers would be involved in a shooting or shootings and would be subjected to debriefing, psychiatric evaluation for PTSD and incident investigation. But if the police officer was involved in repeated or multiple shooting incidents, fatal or otherwise, the officer would have to undergo restriction to desk work and is disarmed. Officers with high kill rate or score would be reassigned to non-confrontational work or community relations.  I brought up the matter to Brig. Gen. Usana for the consideration of the PNP because it may be a procedure whose time has come.

In the old days, a cop with a high kill score was considered a hero, a legend and someone admirable. But in time and through science we have learned that a high kill score can distort the perspective of a police officer or human being for that matter. The line from the movies say it all: “Once you’ve killed someone, the next time becomes easier.” That unfortunately is so true. I have met, mingled and come to know such men, both law enforcers and criminals as well as soldiers. They tell their stories in such “matter of fact” manner devoid of emotions. The higher the kill rate the darker and colder their presence that even fellow police, soldiers or criminals view them with caution and distance. What they all had in common was the belief or understanding or the tacit approval of superiors that it was their job to kill as often as necessary.

That more than anything is the reason the PNP should institute a policy and program that would monitor, evaluate and guide any and all police officers who come under fire and end up killing a person. This is not to punish them but to assist them from the traumatic experience and to insure that killing does not get easier or is rewarded. We must support our police officers, honor them and respect them and in the same light we must do everything to make sure that the job does not end up turning them into killing machines or heartless monsters. They did not sign up for that and the PNP brass owes it to them to put the program in place.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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