Culture of impunity

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - January 25, 2021 - 12:00am

The video of more than five members of the Parañaque City Task Force conducting clearing operations went viral for the wrong reasons. A sidewalk vendor was being arrested because he seemed unwilling to let go of his "kariton". The cart serves as his livelihood so I can understand his unwillingness to let go of it. But instead of just talking calmly to the vendor, he was forcefully taken down, pinned down by his neck, and handcuffed. The video also shows a member of the task force kicking the vendor in the face when he was already helpless. Really? The incident reminded me of George Floyd being pinned by the neck by an American policeman. Floyd could not breathe for several minutes until he eventually died. This catalyzed the Black Lives Matter movement that swept across the US. Fat chance of something like that happening here.

Two senators were appalled by the violent takedown of the vendor. They felt it wasn't necessary. The vendor posed no threat to the numerous task force members. According to Sen. Panfilo Lacson, they should have just helped the vendor instead of taking him down. With many businesses both large and small suffering during the pandemic, everyone does whatever necessary to survive. Lacson understands the law must be enforced but can be done with mercy. He stated he would do something about this.

I'm not at all surprised why persons in authority act this way. Several violent incidents have occurred since the imposition of the quarantine. Let us not forget the killing of Winston Ragos by Master Sergeant Daniel Florendo Jr. simply because of an argument regarding quarantine protocols. Ragos was shot twice even though unarmed. Several police trainees were on the scene so they could have easily arrested him. According to the NBI investigation, the police planted evidence to justify the shooting. The all-too-expected .38 cal. handgun. I have no idea where this case stands at present.

The reason why persons in authority act with impunity is because of the blessing by no less than President Duterte. Kill, shoot, shoot them in the genitals. Those are the words uttered when he addressed the police or the armed forces. He may have been referring to terrorists and illegal drug criminals but may have covered even the petty offenders. He even assured them of his support. Violence and impunity have prevailed all over the country since 2016. Even soldiers are being killed by the police. Then we have someone like Jonel Nuezca who likes to use his gun on unarmed individuals.

During the pandemic, many suffer and are doing everything just to survive. The poor are the hardest hit. They do not need to be treated this way. The DILG will conduct an investigation. What happens if the vendor is not willing to complain because of fear or has no means to hire representation? Will the DILG act on its own? The incident was caught on video so that should be enough to impose an appropriate punishment or sanction. The DILG has enough to act appropriately if it wishes to do so. This emerging culture of impunity must stop.

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