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Walking on Thin Ice: Scrutinizing Police Brutality in the Philippines


With a viral video showing a civilian cop mercilessly slaying two innocent individuals over a personal issue which caused an uproar among the online community, it can be observed how much power and authority the police force holds beyond their line of duty. According to the United Nations (UN) Rights Office, local systems have so far refused to be entirely accountable for the killings in Duterte's drug war, which has resulted in more than 27,000 deaths in both police operations and vigilante-style murders. Consequently, despite the police’s main duty to “serve and protect” the country and its people, it is seemingly presented with the statistics that justice is still walking on thin ice on their paradigm in the current society.

Knowingly, before practicing the profession, the policemen are supposed to take an oath that states they are entitled to “serve and protect” the country and its people because it is their duty and responsibility. In which, this also explains how they gain public honor from their job since their lives are on the line. With how dangerous their work is in efforts of keeping a just society, it is justified why people are meant to honor and acknowledge their hard work and endeavor.

However, with the constant glorification of their job in the Philippines in light of the infamous Drug War, it is noticed how some policemen are taking their privilege of power to a perilous level to feed their “own sense of justice”. For instance, in the viral video, the cop did not even hesitate to display his badge and to assert dominance using his government-issued weapon while out of duty. This also explains why some people fear the presence of the police authority in the vicinity even with the absence of crime. When in fact, it should be the contrary, for they are the ‘protectors’ of the citizens. In this case, the feeling of safety and security must prevail instead.

Further, when looking from a societal perspective, using your profession as a privilege to step on another individual’s right is a clear human rights violation such as police brutality. Therefore, it needs to be condemned not only by the public but also by the justice system of the country as a whole. However, what makes this situation very troublesome to deal with is that when the acts are already vividly indisputable, the justice system and those in power and authority continue to turn a blind eye over these urgent matters.

Thus, this leads us to the questions, “How many more repugnant offenses by the police were disregarded because they are the “police” but was not caught on cam?” and “How much extent does money and power play on upholding justice in the society?”.

No matter how much police brutality happens, it still cannot be denied that at the end of the day, they are still puppets of those in authority who are deemed to protect them which explains why they can get away with crimes. Ostensibly, instead of serving to maintain the rules and laws, they now serve to follow the orders of those in the seats. Therefore, the reform the country needs should not only be present in the internal system of the police force but also to the higher-ups who control the strings of their underlings. Honor and dignity among the people in uniform need to be always present on their side which can only be achieved if their system implements strict rules and consequences on gun handling and a clear extent on when they can enforce their power.

Ultimately, the society we live in today will not be as developed and as orderly if not for the police. However, there is a clear extent of how they should be using their power to maintain a peaceful society. They are figures whom people of all ages look up to. Hence, it is important to see them as someone whom the people can trust — not of whom that the people should fear. After all, societal justice heavily relies on them, and there is no other alternative than to remain that way. The public has no choice but to entrust them with such delicate responsibility, thus it is also the public’s right to demand it from them. Justice should not be in question especially on extremely blatant misdemeanors. Whether or not in uniform, the police forces need to “serve and protect” because it is their job, not because it is an option attached to their current ‘privilege’.