Cover up

Policemen who cover up for crimes committed by their colleagues should also be held liable for the same crime.

The shooting to death of Edwin Arnigo, 18, by a cop who took part in a raid on a tupada (illegal cockfight) in Valenzuela City was accidental, according to a new witness.

The witness said Senior M/Sgt. Christopher Salcedo looked stunned when his gun went off, hitting Arnigo.

I haven’t gone over the investigation report, but from what I gathered from news accounts, the eyewitness was one of those apprehended by the police.

As a journalist who covered the police beat for many years, this is my take on what happened:

Salcedo was holding the witness by one hand and holding a gun in the other.

Apparently, a scuffle ensued between Salcedo and the witness who was trying to get away.

In trying to prevent the witness from escaping, the cop accidentally pulled the trigger and the bullet hit Arnigo, who was passing by.

Clearly, Arnigo was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The victim’s family said that he had asked permission to buy ice candy from a neighborhood store.

How could a boy with special needs have picked a fight with a man holding a gun? People who knew Arnigo said he couldn’t even hurt a fly.

The public would understand if Salcedo and his fellow raiders of the tupada admitted the shooting was accidental.

The courts would look kindly upon Salcedo since he didn’t intend to shoot and kill the victim.

If he would be tried, he would be charged with homicide through reckless imprudence, a much lesser offense with a lighter penalty. He could even be acquitted.

Salcedo and his buddies committed a grave offense when they invented the canard that Arnigo wrestled with Salcedo for the gun and dragged his lifeless body inside the cockpit to make it appear that he was a participant in illegal gambling.

What they did was like planting evidence on an innocent person, an offense punishable by life imprisonment.

What the policemen did was unforgivable.

* * *

Many policemen, especially the newbies, plant evidence – guns, other weapons and drugs – on a citizen they arrest wrongfully. To avoid prosecution later for apprehending an innocent person, policemen frame him for possession of a deadly weapon or drugs.

Putting a deadly weapon beside a dead suspect who was not armed is an old practice.

The Philippine police do not have a monopoly of committing such nefarious deeds; some cops in the US do the same thing on unarmed suspects they mistakenly shoot dead.

Planting evidence on a drug suspect who did not have drugs in his or her person is also a common practice among narcotics cops. It’s a way of precluding prosecution in case the victim or his relatives file a complaint later against the apprehending officers.

Despite some laws that have been passed meting out a harsh penalty on the planting of evidence on an innocent citizen, policemen continue doing such evil deeds.

Government prosecutors, in whose offices suspects in drug-related crimes and otherwise are presented for inquest, are supposed to determine whether to file the case in court or dismiss it outright. But most public prosecutors are either too lazy or dumb to hear the side of the suspects. Or they are too scared of the policemen who presented the respondents to them.

So, prosecutors pass on to the courts the task of determining the guilt or innocence of the suspect when they could have dismissed the case outright from their end.

* * *

Shorties can now be accepted at the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and Bureau of Corrections.

President Digong signed into law Republic Act 11549 or the PNP, BFP, BJMP and BuCor Height Equality Act, revising the height requirements for candidates to the above agencies.

Under the new law, the minimum height is 5’2” for men and 5 feet flat for women.

Our Philippine Marine Corps, the elite soldiers of our Armed Forces, used to impose a minimum height requirement of 5’7” for male enlisted personnel and 5’4” for officers. That has been changed now: 5 feet flat for all candidates.

On the other hand, the United States Marine Corps accepts applicants who stand at 4’10” for both males and females.

Why are Filipinos so obsessed with height for the military, police, firefighters and prison personnel?

Why is there an obsession with being tall, when the average height of the Filipino male is only 5’4” and for females it is 4’11”? A man who stands at 6 feet tall already is very, very tall for a Filipino.

The minimum height requirement of a candidate for the United States armed forces is 5 feet flat for males and 4’10” for females.

The average height of American men is 5’9” and for women it is at 5’4”. To Americans, 6 feet is not quite tall.

Our Armed Forces in the Philippines is an exact copycat of the US armed forces, and yet Filipinos outdo their American counterparts in the aspect of discipline.

In the US, errant or lousy soldiers are made to run around the camp oval, do a hundred pushups or clean the toilet – among other things – as a form of punishment.

Beating by a superior of a subordinate is disallowed.

Also, subordinates are not punished during mealtime.

On the other hand, at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), junior cadets are beaten up and sometimes deprived of their meals – which mostly are not so delicious and nutritious – when they make mistakes.

The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, which our PMA is patterned after, has done away with physical hazing on its plebes (freshman cadets) a long, long time ago.

A cousin of mine was so badly bruised from beatings by PMA senior cadets that he was hospitalized.

To forget his trauma and dissuade him from going back to the PMA, his parents sent him to the US on vacation. There, he joined the US Marine Corps as a private for curiosity’s sake.

My cousin said the USMC “beast barracks,” where the recruits are initiated, was a paradise compared the PMA version. “We were yelled at, cussed and bullied by our drill sergeant, but there was no physical contact. And we were served delicious food at mealtime,” he said.

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