Monday, February 23, 2009

Is there a Vision for a Better Philippines? (Part Two)


What is better?  Do we really know what is better or are we just priming ourselves up for an endless game of trumps-manship?

In the previous post I picked on Better Philippines for ribbing me for saying that it is important to present a vision of a better Philippines.  My contention being that it is as important to have an idea of a bigger picture as it is to paint the details.  His contention being that all so-called visions are basically the same and therefore, unimportant relative to the specific courses of action that candidates should put forward.

I think his point is much better expressed in "Reject those Motherhood Vision Statements" 
"Wouldn’t it be better if we, the voting public, judge our candidates for the specific solutions they plan to pursue to address our country’s problems? Wouldn’t it be wiser for us to hang our hopes on their clear-cut ideas rather than their general and sweeping statements? Wouldn’t we have a better chance of seeing real change in the near future by demanding real, doable courses of action from our candidates now?"
Just to illustrate the contrast in our opinions, let's take the Quezon City police shootout/summary execution last week.

Better Philippines came up suggestions which he believes are radical steps that may help improve the Philippine National Police..
  1. Keep all police officers over the age of 40 away from field duty. Ask them to retire, dismiss them or assign them to office duties instead. Just keep them off the streets.
  2. Replace the guns of police officers over the age of 40 with nightsticks or any other non-lethal weapon
  3. Impose a higher educational requirement for would-be policemen
  4. Require all police officers to undergo behavior modification.
  5. Dismiss all discourteous and arrogant police officers.
  6. Dismiss all police officers that have vices. Make having vices grounds for automatic dismissal
  7. Require all police personnel to attend daily mass or any other equivalent religious ceremony
What does it all add up to?

You'd have a young police force on the streets with their older counterparts manning desks or pursuing alternative careers as personal security.  The younger police officers would have a higher level of education (and I would just assume that Better Philippines meant college educated or academy educated), have absolutely no vices, be courteous and respectful, regularly attend to religious rites, have regular visits to psychologists if needed, and carry a non-lethal weapons (which seems like an oxymoron, how can something non-lethal be considered a weapon?).

If reporters had cared to ask if this was being done, you would have heard the PNP Chief saying that these steps or actions are already in place.  Well, with the exceptions of:
  • carrying non-lethal weapons
  • policemen who are above 40 years old being taken out of field duty
Problem solved?  Do we then have a better Philippine National Police?  You tell me.

On the other hand, perhaps the Quezon City shootout is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg and is just among the many inter-related problems we have with law enforcement in this country.

Here is where Better Philippines and I differ:  Before looking at specific solutions, I'd want to look for a big picture or over-all idea for a better police organization.

What would a better Philippine National Police be like?

Perhaps, because we've had bad service from our police for as long as we can remember, we can no longer conceive of a better police organization.  Or can we?

Should we have more police patrolling our neighborhoods as well as busy areas in the city?  Should we demand that our police be able to arrive within 5 or 10 minutes when we call them on the phone for help? (I don't care too much about the old joke that says that as soon as a crime is committed in the Philippines, the police are there -- the punchline being that it is the police had actually committed the crime.)

Should we demand that our police be better trained in the proper way of apprehending criminals and also be more adept in gathering/preserving evidence?

Should they be better equipped?  Should they have non-lethal weapons as well as surveillance equipment, vehicles, computer systems, and what not?

Should we demand that the police in our area be subjected to rigorous performance evaluations?  Not only to test their knowledge and skills about their job but also to see their psychological fitness?

I'm sure there are other things we ought to look into, but the bottomline I guess is that it should all add up to this:

There ought to be a real reduction in crimes perpetrated and for the crimes that do get committed, there should be a certainty that the perpetrators will be caught.

That's the vision and that is the commitment we ought to demand from the PNP.  Of course, we'll need to ask them what they will need to do this and after that, we ought to pressure congress to enact a budget that will enable them to achieve their goals.

But supposing that we already gave the police everything that they said they needed to reduced crime and still nothing happens, what do we do next?

Perhaps, what we would need at this point is an effective way to make the Philippine National Police more accountable for not delivering on its commitment.

There is such a way and it is called the Peoples' Law Enforcement Board.

In the late 1980s, Dick Gordon (who was then still Mayor of Olongapo City) and Kate Gordon (who was then Congresswoman) sought and succeeded in incorporating the concept of a People's Law Enforcement Board (PLEB) in the PNP Law of 1991.  The PLEB's main function is to act  on civilian complaints against erring policemen and the establishment of PLEBs nationwide gives victims of police abuse and brutality a venue to seek redress.

The family and relatives of those slain in the Quezon City shootout/summar execution may make use of People’s Law Enforcement Board (PLEB) in Quezon City.

They can find it on the Ground Floor Legislative Wing of the Quezon City Hall.  They can look for Ms. Susan S. de Guzman, Executive Officer II or call 925-6045 local 257.  Other people that can be reached in Quezon City's PLEB are Mr. Jaime C. Bautista, Executive Officer I, whom you can call on 925-6045 local 257 or Mr. Renato DM. Recoco, Records Custodian for pending cases, 925-6045 local 257.

The Quezon City PLEB, as all PLEBs all over the country does, receives complaints; conducts investigations and hearings; decides on citizens’ complaints against erring PNP officers and members; and issues clearances to PNP officers and members.
Just how effective the Quezon City PLEB will be at addressing complaints against corrupt and abusive police will depend on how well citizens will use it or if they use it at all.  If the Quezon City PLEB is unresponsive or ineffective, complaints should be made to Mayor Sonny Belmonte.

Although the PLEB acts on complaints it receives, perhaps because of the QC shootout/summary execution, they can go out of their way and seek out the victims to ask if they have any intention of filing a complaint.

On another note, one wonders if anyone will use PLEBs to demand better performance from the Philippine National Police.


English To Tagalog The Blog said...

i didn't want to react online to this but it seems a reality check is in order.

Just to be clear. I'm not saying we don't need a vision. all i said was that the voting public should not be content with the MOTHERHOOD vision statements regularly dished out by politicians. and that politicians should try to provide more specific plans to back their so-called visions.

you're basing your argument on the wrong assumption about my post. your candidate supposedly calls for a change in men. if you read my post you'll see that's exactly what i'm proposing, that the voting public initiate a change in themselves particularly a change in how they assess our candidates and public officials -- that they base their judgments on their specific plans not on their MOTHERHOOD vision statements. and, here you are apparently rejecting the idea that i proposed. i guess you'll have to rethink advocating transformational politics if this will be your line of attack.

if you're gonna continue with this line of argument go ahead and knock yourself out but consider this: if you read your last three posts you will just look like some pr guy who felt he was slighted and is now on a rampage. first you praise my site then you demolish my site. for the record i was not even thinking about gordon when i wrote my post. but then again gordon is a politician so my call also applies to him.

there goes your vision for transformational politics.

English To Tagalog The Blog said...

in addition... you might be doing sen. gordon a disservice by being so defensive about this vision thing. wouldn't it be better if you just told him that some people are making a call for more specific plans. i think from a marketing standpoint -- that is essentially what you're doing anyway for mr. gordon -- shouldn't you be taking note of what your target market (voting public) wants instead of rejecting outright what they propose.

i'm a fan of effective leaders who can deliver and as i told you before i believe in the abilities of mmda chairman bayani fernando and sen gordon. so it's really a big wonder why all the fuss about my post on the pnp, which wasn't even part of the post you really mean to attack. di yata't tumalon ang argumento.

anyway, you know what your doing so i'll just rest my case.

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