They were soldiers. We are at war. Death is a given. So how is it the annihilation of 44 Special Action Forces was too painful for us all? Let me tell you a story:
During that huge congregation at the recent Papal visit here in Manila, I stationed myself at the corner of Remedios and Taft, taking all sorts of inquiries from the crowd. Informations, directions, routes, updates. Anything under the LRT. Think of a stand-up public-assistance-office.
I have stepped in for these two uniformed cops posted there who were all too consumed to perform the task. They were dead-tired and ready to drop. “We haven’t slept for 2 days now.” One of them spoke with difficulty opening his lips.
It was oddly a pleasure doing favor for these men.
The Pope’s visit called for the service of 20,000 police officers. The largest contingent ever deployed for a visiting head of state. The event allowed the opportunity to place the police in a huddle with the populace. We were bunched together. Nestled closely on the street, face to face.
For 5 days we stood with them, sat with them, exchanged laughs, dined. It was easy looking at them straight in the eye. The force is with us, literally. Which is offbeat considering the general feeling towards these police officers: buwayas, pigs, troubles, disappointments. But they were humanized this time.
In fact, one of the best parts we can make much of from the Pope’s visit here in the Philippines is how the law enforcers took care of business. They had their chance and they delivered damn well. And then we realized our men can be very good too! And oh yes we called them ours. Never has the PNP been so esteemed.
But did we give them a big hand for that? No, ’cause we’re simply not used to cheering for them. We are strangers when it comes to commending the force. We’d rather be reserved. After a job well done, they have never heard from us.
UNTIL THAT FATEFUL DAY.
Our outrage is not solely on how the MILF-BIFF wasted our boys. What those Muslim rebels did doesn’t surprise us anymore. We have seen it before. No, our anger is not only about the way our government is steering us through all these. Not only of how politics is allowing the murderers get away with it either. We have a yellow leader and it’s been a curse and we knew it.
What really crushed us is this: we have just barely come from the honeymoon. The Papal event left us with our cops emerging as heroes. The force reaching new heights as the people looked up to our men in uniform.
The tragedy that befell our law enforcers in Maguindanao is — in point of fact — a slap on our face.
The other day, I heard a voice from the news coming out with: “The Philippine National Police should make the most of these moments when they are being loved by the people.”