EDITORIAL - Culture of brutality

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Culture of brutality

Cadets have been dismissed and several have faced criminal indictments in recent years for hazing deaths at the Philippine National Police Academy. Yet such punishments have not completely eradicated the culture of brutality that seems to have taken root in the PNPA.

The latest victim is Cadet 3rd Class George Carl Magsayo, who collapsed in a dormitory room on Sept. 23 allegedly after receiving a beating from an upperclassman, Cadet 2nd Class Steven Ceasar Maingat, ostensibly as punishment for a minor infraction. Magsayo was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Maingat is in the custody of the local police in Silang, Cavite, and is expected to face criminal charges today. This is according to Philippine National Police chief Guillermo Eleazar, who has ordered a thorough probe into the case. Eleazar has stressed that brutality does not mold character, especially for those training to be leaders of the PNP, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the Bureau of Fire Protection.

Whether that message will ever sink in remains to be seen. Even as the pandemic raged last year, two batch mates of Magsayo in the PNPA Class of 2024 also died following beatings at the academy. In 2018, a video reportedly taken in February 2017 surfaced, showing the hazing of cadets by upperclassmen, who used sticks and paddles to hit soles, palms, arms and thighs.

President Duterte’s first PNP chief, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, whose son Rock was a PNPA cadet, even defended hazing rites, saying it was part of a culture that toughened him up in his days as a cadet at the Philippine Military Academy. The statement was not surprising, coming from one of the architects and chief implementer of Oplan Tokhang and the bloody war on drugs, now being investigated by the International Criminal Court.

The lethal violence employed in the drug war, strongly defended by President Duterte himself, has to be among the biggest reasons for the persistence of brutality in the PNPA. Such future officers are likely to carry over the violent mindset to their work, once they are accepted into the PNP.

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