Cop Mom Conquers Challenges
Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros (The Freeman) - April 2, 2017 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Being a tough cop could is a good trait, but tempering the firmness with compassion is noble, exactly what makes one cop stand out in the class.

Lalaine Castro nee Rosales, a non-commission police officer assigned at the Philippine National Police Regional Office 8 (PRO8) Community Relations Office, was recently recognized by the office in Tacloban City for having been adjudged one of the Ten Outstanding Policewomen in the Philippines.

In humility and gratitude, she dedicates to all her fellow female police officers the award and special citations she has been reaping, especially to those whom she believed deserved equal recognition. Castro is second to PCInsp. Bella Rentuaya, PRO8 spokesperson from Eastern Visayas, to receive the same TOPWP award.

“My heart goes out to all policewomen who do the same thing [I did] and even more. There are many of them who deserve to be one of the Ten Outstanding Policewomen of the Philippines, [but] maybe at that time they were just so busy and could not do the plotting of their story,” Castro said.

Lalaine Casro rose from the ground to be later honored with the prestigious distinction conferred by the  Philippine National Police and Zonta Club of Makati-Paseo de Roxas in October last year. As a child she was not different from any peasant girls of the past. She recounted having to sell ice water, fruits, ice candy, among others, to provide for her childhood needs.

She also did babysitting for her neighbors, and even digging into garbage piles at the dump site for anything of value to be sold, such as bronze wires, bottles, plastics and other stuff. To help her parents, she’d go at dawn and collect “kangkong” at a swamp and sold it in the market before going to school. Life was really hard then but, she admits, she was “actually enjoying” it.

She was an only a daughter of a tricycle driver and a simple homemaker, who raised her and her siblings with meager means, just enough for food, clothing and education. In spite of such dearth, they were contented of what their “Nanay” and “Tatay” could provide them.

The hardships during her childhood helped PO2 Lalaine Castro develop the value of compassion towards the needy. This later moved her to do outreach projects while assigned at the Police Community Relations Unit of PRO8. “I was able to initiate advocacies, implemented region-wide humanitarian projects like PRO8’s ‘Bata Kaugop Mo Ako’ advocacy program in 2011 – went around elementary schools for children at risk because at that time the crime rate was high victimizing children like snatching,” she narrated.

Castro lalso initiated relief operations after Yolanda; she was the link of different communities, “because I was assigned with the international organization to assist the personnel from Camp Crame.” As a personal endeavor, she had an outreach in her hometown Babatngon, where she dished out relief goods and medicines to communities affected by typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. Her hometown was deprived of help because it was not identified as a priority area.

“I saw the residents in Babatngon… they needed water and first aid kits so I gave it to them,” she said. Afterwards, she also embarked on an advocacy project, dubbed “Libro Mo, Ikabubuti Ko,” where she campaigned for book donations and distributed these to poor children in the region.

This policewoman has quite a prayerful life. She makes it a point to pray upon waking up in the morning. She has a devotion to the miraculous St. Anthony de Padua of Sulangan, in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, making pilgrimage there every year. “Am a devotee of San Antonio de Padua but I also ask guidance and prayer from other saints,” she says.

Amid all her activities and involvements, she tries the best she can to have time for the family. “I make sure that I spend time with my kids...,” she assures, although she admits she is in a way a disciplinarian to my two daughters,” she said.

But things are not always easy between her being a mother and the kind of work she has. “It is hard to manage time, but if you are committed to something you will really find time,” said the staunch cop mom. And yet she has to double time with her kids since the father is away most of the time being assigned at the national office in PDEA.

“I educate my kids on safety; and when my husband is at home, he would make sure to teach my kids in gun-safety. [As a couple] our bonding [activity] is firing, because we both have guns and anywhere the [kids] will see guns they know the risks and safety [precautions about] it,” Castro said.

In general, police officers are humane, according to Castro, who herself never got involved in actual police operation with gunfire. She does not believe that the extra-judicial killings are the work of the police alone, vouching that most of the time the police exercises maximum tolerance.

“Maybe in instances where the subjects really fight back, the police just have to do it,” she explained. “We are family-men and –women; we do not like, as much as possible, killings.” Extra-judicial killings by the police, unless proven, remains mere allegations, she said.

Castro believes that persons engaged in substance abuse should be rehabilitated, and they should be given a second then a third chance. Life, she said, is a gift from God and “we have to nurture it.” 

From her own experience, Castro has seen that “reform can be expected of people the time you touch them with your service.” This is her belief, her guiding principle on the job as in life.

 

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