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Old tradition of taping police gun muzzles ends

For years, the Philippine National Police (PNP) made a big show of covering the muzzles of their guns with masking tape as New Year’s Eve neared. It was to demonstrate the order that the policemen are not to fire their guns indiscriminately during the noisy celebration to welcome the New Year.

If it was meant to impress the public about the PNP’s determination to stop its men from unduly contributing to the number of stray bullet victims, it was not a very convincing move. After all, it does not take much effort to remove the masking tape, then replace it after firing a few shots in the air, and no one would be any wiser As for the men themselves, not a few may have seen the taping ceremony as rather degrading, a sign of lack of their superior officers’ lack of trust in them.

Last week, the PNP, on order of PNP chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa, finally decided to end the tradition of taping the firearms of the nation’s 160,000 policemen. “This is to show the people that the PNP is a disciplined and trusted organization and it does not need muzzle taping,” said Director Camilo P. Cascolan, head of the PNP Directorate for Operations. The new PNP leadership expects the men to be mature and professional, it was added.

The PNP today is in the midst of a nationwide campaign to stop the drug menace and many men have found themselves in critical and dangerous situations. Thousands of people have been killed in the police drive and PNP men themselves have been among the victims. We cannot have our policemen going around with their gun muzzles taped in the middle of this campaign.

If the goal is to keep our New Year celebration as peaceful and as free as possible of accidental wounding or death by indiscriminate firing of guns, the public must be mobilized in a general alert, so that anyone firing a gun on New Year’s Eve will be reported and stopped. PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Dionard Carlos urged the public to call the national hotline 911 so the local police can take immediate action.

Throughout the coming weeks and days, our national police force must be on alert and ready for any emergency, not only in relation to the New Year celebration but also to the ongoing campaign against drugs. We cannot have our policemen going around with their gun muzzles covered with masking tape.