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'Arestoaguinaldo': Not all amused by Cebu City police's gift-giving prank

The Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) wanted to spread the holiday cheer by giving out gifts this Christmas. But they planned a special surprise to go with the gift-giving activity – a fake arrest.

Since Tuesday, December 15, the Cebu City cops have been "arresting" unsuspecting but deserving citizens in a holiday prank they dubbed as "arestoaguinaldo."

According to reports in the Cebu Daily News, the recipients of the gifts, or as the prank goes, the "suspects" were chosen from private companies partnered by CCPO. The companies then picked 8 deserving workers who would received the gifts after being pranked.

Here's how the prank works. The cops would go to the work areas where they would single out the suspect/recipients. Then would bring their "suspects" inside police vehicles. The other cops would follow and jump in to surprise the "suspects" with Christmas gifts that include groceries and other items.

While the police were sincere in reaching out to help, some netizens called them out because they did not find the prank funny.

The prank was done during a time when the Philippine National Police was under intense flak for its double standard in enforcing quarantine rules. They are harsh on ordinary people but look the other way in cases of violations by VIPs and government officials.

A United Nations investigation also suggested that police have planted evidence in the course of its violent anti-drug campaign, which began in 2016 under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. (READ: UN report: Documents suggest PH police planted guns in drug war ops)

Rappler reached out CCPO Director, Colonel Josefino Ligan but he has not replied as of this writing.

In earlier news reports, however, Ligan told media that "arestoaguinaldo" was "playful." The Cebu City police chief said: "We prepared a script for them. So it was like they were going to be arrested but instead, they were going to be given gifts."

In a text message, Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) said that the pranks were not funny and were “in bad taste”.

“With continuing criticism of the police bring unprofessional and politicized, it is a bad joke and wry humor that unnerves and traumatizes unsuspecting citizens, especially given the track record and public perception of police conduct,” Olalia said.

“Persistent reports and serious allegations of routinary planting of evidence, spinning of false narratives, customary legal shortcuts, and brazen double standards & hypocrisy make these the biggest jokes,” added Olalia. – Rappler.com