EDITORIAL - Very costly lapses in police work

The Freeman

The death of two policemen who were part of raiding team that swooped on a suspected drug den in Moalboal tells us two things: One, that certain deficiencies must have attended the conduct of the raid and, two, that the drug menace is no longer just a scourge of the urban areas but has now become a real threat to far-flung places.

The two policemen were shot and killed after the raid. Several suspects have already been arrested and they formed part of the perimeter security thrown around the suspected drug den. But from out of nowhere came two men on a motorcycle and fired shots in their direction. The two cops were felled in this hail of bullets. In the ensuing commotion, those who had been arrested managed to escape. The incident was a big blow to police work.

Every now and then we hear of trainings being conducted by the Philippine National Police. In the aftermath of the incident, the question now begs to be asked: Do these trainings reach the far-flung areas or are they done mainly in the cities and urban areas? If the answer is yes, then the PNP can be accused of being negligent, if not downright ignorant, of prevailing realities.

Take the case of Moalboal. If you just look at it in the map, you would presume it to be a very sleepy town where police work must be uneventful and boring, it being far away from the nearest urban center. But if the PNP is aware of prevailing realities, it would realize that Moalboal is a major resort town, one that has been a major attraction, especially to foreigners.

Given the relevance and contributions of Moalboal to the economy, it is very clear that it is far from the sleepy town perception that kicks in if one relies merely on its location in the map. Given its strategic importance, Moalboal certainly deserves national attention, particularly in the training and equipping of its policemen.

To be sure, we are not experts in police work. But one does not have to be a genius to realize that grave deficiencies and operational lapses were involved in the death of the two policemen, deficiencies and lapses that can only be due to a lack of proper training in such situations. The life of one policeman lost in the line of duty is already costly enough. But two?

At the very least, an investigation and assessment has to be conducted promptly into the incident, not necessarily to find fault or mere punishment, but to determine where the deficiencies and lapses were so that they can be quickly remedied and corrected. Fighting ordinary crimes is proving to be increasingly difficult already. It is even worse when the fight is against illegal drugs. When the stakes get higher, so goes the level of violence and sophistication of the perpetrators.











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