There have been far too many cases of police impunity these past few years and, although it’s a juvenile thought, maybe there was still some part in me that thought that there would be a breaking point. Is there really no level of public distrust that will have the administration viewing these cases as a systemic issue?
The latest case of police misconduct and abuse of power enraging netizens involves six police officers accused of robbing a sidewalk vendor of P14,000 in government aid. The Philippine National Police (PNP) announced on April 6 that it has relieved the officers from their posts at the Drug Enforcement Unit of the Caloocan City Police Station.
Eddie Acaso Yuson, a 39-year-old sidewalk vendor, alleged that the officers took his cash while he was on his way to a fast-food restaurant to buy food for his family. Yuson claimed in a post shared by one of his daughters that he was accosted, frisked, hit, and threatened. Also included in the family’s call for help uploaded on March 29 is CCTV footage of the incident.
“Inabuso po ang kanyang karapatang pantao. Hindi ko po lubos na maisip na ganito ang sasapitin ng aking papa sa mga nagpakilalang pulis,” said one of his daughters in the post that detailed not only the jarring incident but also the hardships of her father in sustaining his family as a single parent. “Naapektuhan na po ang hanapbuhay ng aking papa, kamamatay lang din po ni Mama at apat po kaming magkakapatid na mag-isang binubuhay ni Papa. Natrauma din po si Papa sa ginawa sa kanya.”
Once again, this is being framed as a case of a few bad eggs rather than a systemic problem where corruption and violence thrives. After detailing the action taken on the officers, PNP chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos remarked, “We don’t want this isolated incident to tarnish the reputation of the entire organization.”
It’s not the first time that the PNP has brushed off police offenses as isolated incidents. Like police killings, the number of accosting and stealing charges against officers is concerning. To add insult to injury, it’s taxpayers’ money being used to arm and, in turn, embolden these men.
While the red-tagged community pantriescontinue to promote kindness a year into volunteer efforts, there are officers exacerbating the suffering that a lot of families are already going through in the pandemic. It is hard to overlook that the six officers were part of a Drug Enforcement Unit; our criticisms on this anti-poor incident can’t be separated from our criticisms on President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent war on drugs, which has targeted impoverished communities.
To this day, there are families that have yet to receive justice for their slain loved ones and be compensated for their losses. This lack of compassion from authority figures is not what families already struggling to make ends meet deserve to face from our government.
With election day a mere month away, it’s important for us to ask which candidates can turn our heavily policed country into a kinder and more compassionate nation that protects underprivileged communities from violence.