Speech at the PNP Police Community Relations

Camp Crame, Quezon City

Thank you for having me for the second time this year. As always, I am honored to be given the podium and share my insights with you.

As I entered the gate of this historic and once hallowed ground, I couldn’t help but remember the years I spent working with three young Philippine Constabulary lieutenants who I had very little doubt in my mind even at that time, would someday be part of a rich law enforcement history. Well, they did and still do. 2LT Jesus Verzosa, 2LT Magtanggol Gatdula and of course, 2LT Raul Bacalzo – sila ‘yung kung tawagin namin nung mga panahon na iyun ay mga TIG – tig operate, tig huli ng mga suspek, tig gawa ng mga spot reports, tig-imbestiga, at tig etchetera, etcetera. 

Allow me first to congratulate PNP Chief Raul Bacalzo and the proponents of the PNP-Integrated Transformation Program for successfully enhancing and strengthening police community relations through programs and related actions that entice public input into decision-making processes related to crime solving and peacekeeping efforts.

May you continue to foster and enhance the effective existing programs and support future projects that promote police-community relations.

If I mention every good word to describe Director General Bacalzo, I’m afraid we won’t have enough time for it. I will therefore sum it all up in one short sentence – General, it was indeed a rare privilege to have worked with you once upon a time in my military career.

When I was appointed Chief of the Philippine National Police in November 1999, I inherited an agency that was more feared than respected for lack of integrity and genuine public service. The public had low regard for the institution and its personnel who they generally saw as inept, corrupt and undisciplined. Victims of crimes hesitated to file complaints because they thought it would just be a waste of time – walling katiyakan kung matutulungan man sila o hindi. Subalit ang halos sigurado ay madidilihensiyahan sila ng pang-gasolina, pambili ng bond paper, pang-kape at pang-merienda. Police action was slow and reporting crime was cumbersome. These translated to a low percentage of crime reporting, a clear indication of diminishing public trust and confidence in the police and the criminal justice system.

As I was put in the saddle, I made a strong resolve that come hell or high water I would put premium on social and criminal justice in the eyes of the citizenry. The public needed to know that their police, starting from the chief down to the rank and file, was prepared and able to accept responsibility for the agency and was going to be held accountable for its performance.

I was very much aware at that time that if I were to turn things around, reviving public trust would be my trigger point. To accomplish that, I had to work on a solid foundation. That foundation is INTEGRITY; and the test of integrity is credibility.

To ultimately test one’s credible standing is to see whether he does what he says.

If a man is truthful and upright in public, but renounces those standards in private – he lacks credibility because he has no integrity.

A man who cheats himself once is a thousand times worse than the one who cheats a thousand others.

Integrity means being consistent in one’s behavior under every circumstance including those unguarded and tempting moments – and integrity is foundational to the success of police community relations.

On to my next point: COMMITMENT – the ability to stand firm behind your decisions no matter how difficult they may be. A wise man once said, “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.”

Furthermore, commitment means saying no to situations where trust is traded as a public commodity. Not everyone is called to public service and when we are, we must wear that badge with honor – Kahit sino pa ang tatamaan at masasaktan, basta tama ang pinaglalaban.

The courage and resoluteness to say no, even to our superiors, when the order given is utterly wrong and unlawful is the real test of COMMITMENT.

Kaugnay nito, nais kong hilingin at hingin ang walang pasubaling kooperasyon at pakikipagtulungan ng pamunuan ng PNP sa mga susunod na araw – sa pagsasagawa namin sa Senado ng mga imbestigasyon na kung hindi man may kaugnayan sa kapulisan ay may kinalaman ang ilang matataas na opisyal ng PNP.

Light Police Operational Helicopters
MVUC – OYSTER 1.4B pesos
Jose Pidal

Last point but certainly not the least: GENUINE CONCERN. This should always guide our actions. No one should aspire for a position of leadership because he wants to have power, influence and money. This can be best exemplified if we consistently refuse to get the usual share of jueteng lagay or payola, the “standard and acceptable” 20% commission on all supply contracts signed and the misuse of PNP funds. In my case when I was chief, the so called P44M-a-year command and commander’s reserve.

Maybe, there are things that can be compromised; but honor is certainly not one of them.

We should be happy and content to be given our daily bread. Again, in my case, in my heart and mind then and now, I will always remain as the son of a jeepney driver and market vendor whose only hope was to be given a fair shot at a comfortable life.

Driven to shake things up and true to my credo – What is right must be kept right; what is wrong must be set right, I therefore took immediate action of overhauling the image of our police officers. My term was characterized by the massive sanctions of the inept, corrupt and undisciplined among our policemen, or what I used to call – ICUs. It was either you shape up or you get shipped out. This was very unpopular among those policemen who came to rely on bus drivers, truck drivers, jeepney drivers, taxi cab drivers, vegetable and fruit dealers and similarly situated small entrepreneurs and other motorists for “kotong”.

Soon enough our efforts yielded desirable results. Our policemen had been purged of corruption. They were disciplined and even became physically fit to serve the people better.

However, no matter how effective our efforts were in crime reduction, I firmly believed that a progressive justice system needs to have the cooperation of private individuals as well. With crimes persistent and organized crime groups entrenched, the police can only do so much. Thus, it is paramount to draw support and cooperation from the citizenry and empower them to take responsibility for safeguarding neighborhoods, and not just rely on the police to fight crimes.

Fighting crimes is everyone’s business. We all have a civic duty to act as the eyes and the ears of the community and the police force as well. We are vital in helping create a safer and more nurturing local environment.

It is not just the policeman’s fight, it is also their fight.

Thus, more than a decade ago, a group of proactive and civic-minded individuals, prominent and successful in their respective fields came up with their own idea of doing their share, no matter how humble and small, in helping the police by enhancing their anti-crime capability. So, they linked up with then Director for Police Community Relations, Victor Batac to form what we now proudly call, the PNP Foundation Inc.

Tapping the resources of the private sector, they solicit monies that up to this point – hanggang magunaw na nag mundo ay mananatiling nariyan at hindi marring galawin ninuman. Only the accrued earnings and interests may be used to buy and donate equipment solely to the Philippine National Police and nobody else. From police motorcycles to fit-out of workshop rooms, seminar room and auditorium, and training facilities like the rehabilitation of the rope obstacle course, from medical equipment including hospital beds, wheelchairs, delivery beds, weighing scales, minor surgery kits and stretchers to visual and IT equipment – there are no restrictions to what the Foundation can give to the PNP except its wherewithal to do so.

In fact today, we will again turn over some modest donations to the PNP.

I couldn’t think of a better way to end my short message this morning than leaving you with a simple quote from Haile Selassie: “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”

May that message leave an impact and hopefully propel us to a better and more meaningful police-community relations.