The Philippine National Police: A Cabal of Hypocrites

This Article was written by Andrei Camurungan, an undergraduate at American University

“The Philippine National Police (PNP) shall enforce the law, prevent and control and crimes, maintain peace and order, and ensure public safety and internal security the active support of the community.”  This is the mission statement the PNP have on their site.  It provokes thought of a well-trained police force that is both highly professional and well loved by the citizens.  But the reality could not be further from the truth.  The Filipino police, as a whole, has been derided by human rights organizations, local watchdog groups, and the Filipino media in general for its participation in graft.  The National Police have been implicated in multiple major scandals involving both rank and file officers and the leadership.  In addition to the various allegations of corruption, the Philippine Police has shown itself to be inept in major operations notably the 2010 hostage crisis in Manila.  The police, displaying a lack of preparedness, bungled the situation and engaged the shooter in a bloody shootout that killed eight Chinese tourists.  Events such as these have contributed to the current perception by the public that the police are an ineffective, and ineffectual tool in society, unable to reliably combat crime and protect the public.

Statistics taken from surveys conducted among in the Philippines confirm the public’s dissatisfaction with the police.  According to the Global Corruption Index, over 68% of respondents have agreed the police is a corrupt institution.  Other damning facts have surfaced over the years, including allegations that the police have doctored documents to mislead the public about the number of journalist deaths in the year 2013.  According to Sheila Coronel, the dean of academic affairs at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, over 84% of these deaths are committed with impunity.  The killers in those murders are never found, and there are no investigations into those deaths as well.  The police, who are obligated to investigate, are paid bribes to look the other way.  Powerful individuals in possession of wealth can therefore operate with a free hand and kill journalists who are trying to uncover corruption.  Sheila cites the notorious case of Marlene Garcia-Esperat, who was shot by a gunman in front of her family at her home in southern Mindanao.  It was one of the few cases with any sort of resolution she says, the gunman was ultimately imprisoned after a trial.  However, the alleged masterminds, two officials of the Mindanao Department of Agriculture she was investigating for corruption, were not charged at all.  “This isn’t new,” Sheila states, referencing the use of political influence to avoid prosecution, “the courts are slow and sometimes they’re corrupt.  And the police just don’t do its work.”

When cadets graduate from the Philippine Police Academy they swear an oath to serve and protect the public to the utmost of their ability.  The swear before God and their President, amid the emotional looks of their families, who are proud to witness their sons and daughters become the latest generation of police officers.  However, the reality after graduation is always the same.  They become caught up in the culture of corruption that is so pervasive that all are exposed to it, and many fall into its embrace.  And the public they swore to protect pays for their lack of integrity and professionalism.

4N Policy Now is a non- partisan, non-biased organization. All of the views expressed in the content published on this site are the sole opinions of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of 4N Policy Now.

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