By Samira GutoC
Who would have thought that we will be disappointed by an officer who happens to be the commander of the National Capital Region?
But that is what I felt upon hearing the news when NCRPO Chief Major General Debold Siñas violated the very law they have been implementing in the Philippine National Police without any consideration on the situation or circumstance of the people they recently apprehended and brandished in the media.
How can he have the gall to celebrate his birthday and even posted it in the NCRPO Facebook Page when people are making their own sacrifices at their homes, while others were mercilessly arrested and jailed without even giving any attention to their valid excuse. They were too legalistic for others, while so many excuses for their violation, feeling he’s above the law.
While I have not recovered yet from what he did before when he issued a memorandum asking for the list of Muslim schools months back, Also there was an incident during the Enhanced Community Quarantine that called our attention when another police were throwing invectives in front of the mosque, then there goes another unpleasant incident.
Honestly, I have been asking myself how come Maj. Gen. Siñas allowed the celebration, whether there was a surprised Mañanita or dinner celebration with close friends and fellow police officers knowing the fact that the Philippine National Police officers on the ground are the ones who legalistically implementing the ECQ and social distancing.
As NCRPO Chief, he knows that mass gatherings and parties in time of ECQ are prohibited. Netizens, past PNP Chiefs like General Art Lomibao, Senator Ping Lacson, and even lawyers and lawmakers criticized him. What is so embarrassing is the fact that his story on the violation of the ECQ landed in the New York Times.
The other thing that disappoints me is the fact that the PNP Chief Archie Gamboa is the one taking the cudgels for Maj. Gen Sinas! Respectable leaders like them dubbed as cavaliers, officers, and gentlemen are supposed to set good examples. Are they exempted to follow the law? What keeps?
And here is another question that has been popping out in my mind. What are they going to do about it? Even now, people have been furious with this perceived unequal treatment between government officials and the common tao. But when a senator and an OWWA officer breaks the law, they are treated with compassion and even OWWA Admin Hans Cacdac a respectable man and lawyer seem to have been eaten up by the system. He could just prudently say, we will look at it, instead of insulting our intelligence that there was no violation. In legal parlance, they always invoke, “Dura lex, sed lex” (The law is harsh, but that is the law). It looks like they are spitting on the law (Filipino word for “dura”) and brandish it to add insult to the injury to the common Filipino people.
I cannot reconcile this. When there are people giving food or aid to those in need, they are arrested. When they are people who are critical to President Duterte in social media, they are arrested and humiliated. When there were frontliners who was forced to have a back ride because of the lack of other means to go to hospitals and save people from COVID-19, they are fined and forced to walk.
This is not just my very own sentiment, but also the sentiments of many people. They should all go down from their ivory tower and see what is the feeling of the people in this double standard norm.
Looking back, the unfortunate incident about the retired soldier, Cpl. Winston Ramos who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who was killed during a quarantine checkpoint in Quezon City. The Philippine National Police was criticized but they said it happened because they were just strictly implementing the ECQ law. Furthermore, they also alleged that the soldier was armed. Before killing when they confronted Cpl. Ramos, many people who knew the soldier told the police that the soldier has a mental health problem issue. But they did not show a tinge of compassion despite info given to them. They did not listen, and they sentenced him to death by shooting him. and evidence was planted according to the findings on NBI in the news.
Cpl. Ramos was a Marawi hero. He fought the Maute group and other Isis group. That is the reason why the Philippine Army gave him full military honors which is a sure slap on the face of the entire Philippine National Police who justified the shooting of the hero soldier.
This should not have happened if the policemen know how to look at the spirit of the law more than the letter of the law. But it is heartbreaking that it happened. And here is my ultimate question to the Duterte administration and the leadership of the Philippine National Police. what shall we do now in the case of Major General Siñas? What will you do now on the recent findings of the NBI that the gun that the police allegedly found from Cpl. Ramos was just planted?
You always invoke “Dura lex, sed lex”, but prove the Filipino wrong that no one is above the law, even the ones from the top brass of the Philippine National Police.