Rules of engagement

By: Manuel “Boy” Mejorada

THE testimony of former CIDG Director and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong on the “bust and sell” activities of certain high-ranking police officials reinforces what most of us have known for a long time: serious corruption is eating up the Philippine National Police.

It would be unfair to say that the entire PNP organization is corrupt. But it takes only a handful of corrupt police officers, especially those occupying top positions, to destroy the credibility of the law enforcement agency.

The PNP, like any other law enforcement agency, must be above suspicion.

Where there is corruption, you can be certain that abuse of power is never far behind. I would even venture to say that both go together. A corrupt police officer tends to be so bold as to break rules of engagement. For them, there is no such thing as due process or human rights. By itself, breaking the rules of engagement is corruption.

These thoughts filled my mind after I read about the reported shooting of a 28-year old male in Sara, Iloilo on Monday might at a police checkpoint. It appears that the victim, known only as “Palaboy” as of this writing, was driving a motorcycle with a minor on the way back to the hospital in Sara at around 10:30 p.m. The PNP had set up a checkpoint near its headquarters in Sara on the route “Palaboy” was driving along.

Instead of stopping, however, “Palaboy” drove past the checkpoint.

Gunshots suddenly rang out from the policemen conducting the checkpoint. “Palaboy” was hit with one round in the back. He died on the spot.

Clearly, it was a breach of the rules of engagement. Law enforcers are supposed to fire their weapons only when a suspect is armed, and in the act of threatening their safety. The proper thing for the policemen to do was give chase and apprehend “Palaboy”. In this case, the policemen made bullets do the chasing for them. Whoever fired the fatal bullet was a sharpshooter; hitting a target in darkness is difficult to do.

Something is terribly wrong with the mindset of police officers in the Iloilo Provincial Police Office. The new Provincial Director, P/Col. Roland Alonzo Vilela has a big problem in his hands. This kind of behavior is a carry-over of the abuses under the previous administration. Remember what the IPPO SOG did during the elections? These cops served as goons for former Governor Arthur Defensor, Sr.

I am a victim of this abusive behavior. I haven’t filed cases yet, but what P/Major Jonathan Pinuela did when he personally handcuffed me on June 7 like a terrorist speaks volumes about this rottenness that is eating the IPPO from the inside.

I hope Colonel Vilela takes quick action to investigate the Sara incident. Wrongdoing by our policemen must never be tolerated. When the leadership at the IPPO allows abuses to go unchecked, then you can be sure it will spread through the organization like cancer.