[EDITORIAL] In the face of impunity and double standards, #LawIsLaw

Weaponized police force

The reaction of Sinas’ boss, Philippine National Police Chief Archie Gamboa was equally revealing. He said there was “no violation in his view” without even looking at the facts. He tried to excuse his subordinate Sinas – a Duterte appointee like him – without regard for protecting the integrity of the institution his badge stood for. Kunsintidor ka sa sinungaling, Gamboa.

Of course, they made a show of filing the appropriate charges against Sinas and Ragos’s shooter. But the impunity and double standards under the ECQ reveal a police leadership so bereft of values, pro forma charges will not restore the now complete loss of trust of the people.

Where did this start, this emergence of a police force mentality that befits the fearsome Metrocom of Marcos's Martial Law days 36 years ago? 

This culture of impunity can be directly traced to Duterte’s tokhang, the drug war that has created a weaponized police force solely concerned with making the President happy – even if it goes against their sworn oath to protect the citizenry. It has taught officials and rookies alike that justice, compassion, and respect for human life doesn’t get them accolades or promotions.

That backslide isn’t unique to the cops. It took around 3 decades for the military to adopt a “hearts and minds” approach to the Left – and all it took was a Duterte to reverse that overnight. Now soldiers have the license from the President to “hunt communists down” and “annihilate them,” as well as “shoot women rebels in the vagina.”

Will the police ever give up the power that made them gods when they strut down streets, one that allowed them to vent their macho anger at “pasaway” (undisciplined) citizens with no blowback? We don’t think so. 

Duterte and former police chief Bato dela Rosa have created a monster force – one that will make Hitler proud. It will be one of the most problematic Duterte legacies his successors will have to grapple with, unless they are of the same mold.

Now we know

Now we know how the tokhang victims felt firsthand: the vulnerability, the fear, and the helplessnes. Mobile phone videos documented a lot of the police brutality and double standards, but you can be sure a lot of the abuses did not find their way online. But this is happening.

We call on Filipinos to not let this pass. We can’t ignore this like we ignored tokhang extrajudicial killings – now we know the police can turn on anyone – the rich, the middle class, and the poor. We can’t ignore this simply because we could be next. #CourageONRappler.com