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Law enforcement credibility

In recent months, the PNP has bore the brunt of jabs resulting from the blunders committed by some of its personnel.

Aside from many unsolved crimes, the pressure to stop extrajudicial killings in the campaign against illegal drugs has taken a high pitch, drawing into the fray global institutions that were otherwise non-interventionists.

The hardest part of the credibility issue, however, is the clamor by suspects not to be detained at the NBI headquarters, and be under custody at Camp Crame, or incarcerated in any detention facility for security reasons. Of course, this is understandable.

First, in an effort to build up a case, the Justice department has enlisted the services of high-profile convicts at the Bilibid penitentiary to pin down a senator. From a layman’s viewpoint, this display of power on the part of Executive branch over cloistered criminals is terrifying.

Second, when the late Albuera (Leyte) Mayor Rolando Espinosa was detained at the Baybay municipal jail, he was fatally gunned by PNP intelligence operatives inside his cell. For bystanders, the murder sent a strong public message that a detention cell is not a place of safety.

Third, the kidnap of a Korean and his eventual murder inside Camp Crame has created an impression that no matter how committed and strong the caveat issued by authorities, rogue enforcers have their own way of leaving their marks, which terrifies ordinary people.

Fourth, the campaign to rid the country of suspected big-time drug pushers has not been a success. High-profile drug lords, denounced by the President publicly, continue to enjoy their freedom without cases filed against them.

Fifth, the PNP has redundantly told the public that over a thousand cops have been involved in drugs but their names have been kept in confidence, unlike ordinary offenders who are immediately paraded and humiliated in front of national television cameras.

And, sixth, in the eyes of the public, police visibility happens only after the fact, when probers start gathering evidences. What makes this exercise painful is that nothing impressive has come out of the investigations, something the family of victims strongly revolt against.

Although efforts are being made to correct the defects and deficiencies of law enforcement agencies, the dilly-dallying that comes with solving criminal cases obviously register negatively in the public consciousness.

In a war of impressions, the PNP is sadly losing. (Johnny Dayang)