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In the dust of the controversy kicked up by President Duterte, when he announced in Beijing that the Philippines was cutting military and economic ties with the US, let us not allow what happened 5 days ago to die down quietly.
On October 19, something snapped, sending danger signals: our already-fragile hold on the rule of law showed itself in the blatant display of violence by the police – in broad daylight and before the eyes of many.
A Manila police vehicle overrun protesters outside the US embassy, ramming through the crowd and injuring some.
It was the most violent dispersal of a rally under the Duterte administration. The entire episode was caught on video and in photographs.
Informed of the brutal incident, Duterte in Beijing said he wasn’t blaming anyone and he would get to the bottom of it. Quite uncharacteristic of the President, who likes to shoot from the hip.
His cautious stance can be explained by the fact that his favored agency, the Philippine National Police (PNP), is at the center of this shocking assault on civilians.
To be fair, the Manila police chief “administratively relieved” the cops involved while the investigation is supposedly taking place. But this came after he defended them.
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa took the same position as his boss, Duterte, and is awaiting results of the probe.
What led to this kind of aggressive behavior by the police? They acted with impunity, apparently unafraid of the consequences.
This is not an isolated incident. Recently, 2 policemen allegedly shot and killed an anti-crime advocate, Zenaida Luz, in Mindoro.
Both rode a motorbike and wore a disguise. One of the cops was even a recipient of an award by PNP chief Dela Rosa himself during a recent visit to Calapan City.
We’re seeing a spillover of violence beyond Duterte’s war on drugs, with police confidence in their actions and position in the President’s hierarchy at its peak.
The President has encouraged policemen to pursue drug suspects and justified exterminating them.
Duterte has also repeatedly promised them protection: “I will not hesitate to pardon 10, 15 military and policemen everyday,” referring to their exploits against suspected drug traffickers. Plus he has increased their pay.
In his 1st 100 days, Duterte has visited 3 PNP regional offices apart from a couple of appearances in Camp Crame, the PNP headquarters.
And the killings continue to escalate. As of the 3rd week of October, there have been over 4,400 deaths, both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style killings.
Reports have surfaced that some of the policemen are behind the extrajudicial killings, through hired killers and officially-sanctioned clandestine teams of cops.
This has to stop. An emboldened PNP has become the face of impunity in the country. – Rappler.com