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Opinion

File charges against abusive cops

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

The People’s Law Enforcement Board of Quezon City is to be commended, grudgingly, for dismissing Cpl. Reymart Rigor from the service for shooting a 22-year-old student, Adrienne Castor, in February.

However, the board should be bawled out at the same time for not giving the appropriate punishments against the three Quezon City cops who didn’t respond to the shooting incident even after they heard the commotion.

The Quezon City PLEB should likewise be reprimanded for just demoting the investigating cop who filed a mere case of physical injuries instead of frustrated murder against his abusive colleague.

In demoting Senior M/Sgt. Neleazar Torrijos, S/Sgt. Fernan Concepcion and Cpl. Jimbeam Fernandez, the QC PLEB said they committed acts of grave neglect of duty when they failed to respond to the shooting incident.

At the time of the incident, the policemen were having a drinking spree in a house near where the incident took place.

The board also demoted S/Sgt. Bryan Busto for grave neglect of duty, for filing the much lesser offense of physical injuries against him.

Doesn’t the board know the implication of “grave neglect of duty?” In the military, a guard faces a firing squad for abandoning his post in wartime. It’s a serious offense and should have been dealt with by dismissal instead of demotion.

Sergeants Torrijos, Concepcion, Fernandez and Busto should have been dismissed along with Cpl. Rigor, the assailant.

A drunken cop who shot a student without any provocation, three policemen ignoring the commotion while the student was being shot and the investigating cop who condoned the behavior of his trigger-happy colleague: The citizenry needs these law enforcers like they need a hole in the head.

If I were to be asked, the members of the QC People’s Law Enforcement Board are either ignoramuses or cowards for not giving the exact punishments against the lazy policemen.

Imagine, it had to take Mayor Joy Belmonte for the Quezon City Police District to take a serious look at the shooting of student Castor!

Without the mayor’s intervention, the city police force would have swept the crime under the rug.

*      *      *

Reports of policemen acting like criminals have become so commonplace that the citizenry has become jaded. They no longer care.

The apathy of the citizenry toward abusive law enforcers is so disheartening.

The apathy breeds more monsters among our policemen, because they can get away with their offensive behavior.

Take the case of the six anti-drug cops in Caloocan City who reportedly robbed a vendor of P14,000, money he recently got from the government as a subsidy.

The victim, 39-year-old Eddie Yuson, was beaten up by the cops during the robbery, which was caught on video.

And yet Yuson has refused to press charges against his assailants.

Why? One of two reasons: Yuson has forgiven the cops who obviously knelt before him with their families in tow, so he would not press charges; or, Yuson was just too cowardly because his assailants are policemen.

I’ve been witness to this scene being played over and over at “Isumbong mo kay Tulfo,” a tribune in media.

Many citizens who come to my office to complain against abusive cops eventually settle with their erstwhile attackers, despite my prodding for them to press charges.

One of the most egregious power trips was committed by policemen at the Sta. Mesa police precinct years ago.

A gay mechanic and his boyfriend were apprehended by cops at a mobile checkpoint. The crime? The two lovers were about to enter a motel.

Taken to the police station, the cops subjected the lovers to indignities like having them clean the toilet and trying to force them to perform fellatio while they watch.

Not content with humiliating the two, the cops extorted money from them. The gay man called his sister, who came to the precinct with several months’ savings of coins contained in a piggy bank.

The gay man came to my office crying from apparent shock.

My staff and I went into action. We accompanied the man to the Manila Police District headquarters where his complaint was put in the blotter.

A few weeks later, we found out to our dismay that the gay man had lost interest in filing administrative and criminal cases against his oppressors.

We pleaded with the victim to please not drop the charges against the abusive policemen, to no avail.

Apparently, to avoid our persistent appeals for him to press charges, the man changed his phone number.

Isumbong has handled numerous complaints from citizens who sought redress from wrongs committed by people in authority, especially cops.

Why they would come to Isumbong and similar programs in media, instead of going to the proper authorities, is a reflection of the citizenry’s distrust of our government.

By my estimate, only four in 10 ordinary citizens who come to Isumbong eventually press charges against abusive policemen.

The remaining 60 percent lose interest after a while because they were probably paid off by their erstwhile oppressors or threatened with reprisal.

The above-mentioned figures of complainants losing interest in pressing charges against their police oppressors is a sad commentary of our slave mentality.

Our people should be more assertive of their constitutional and human rights.

If we don’t change our attitude, we will continue to have an abusive Philippine National Police (PNP), whose motto is “to serve and protect.”

As Jose Rizal wrote in his novel, El Filibusterismo, “there are no tyrants where there are no slaves.”

Bullies will continue to oppress others as long as their victims don’t fight back.

COPS

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