What are we in power for?
This Is the usual thinking of Filipinos who are in powerful positions when they have to violate rules or to abuse their authority, or when they steal the people’s money through corruption. It was a carry over from the thinking of our Spanish colonizers who thought we were just indios to be kicked around. As they saw it, we were just a notch above the animal kingdom. “It was the white man’s privilege,” they must have thought. While they used religion to pacify and cheat us into subservience, they never really had the Christian faith at heart. They did not treat us in a humane way.
And our politicians or those who are in powerful positions now are like that.
The latest manifestations of these were the attitudes of high ranking police officials who violated the lockdown rules while ordinary citizens were enduring the pangs of hunger and yet had to abide by these.
First in the list was the head of the police office of the National Capital Region, Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas. He held a birthday party where people came to give him gifts, particularly his subordinates and then they had a mañanita or a small dinner. “Konting salo-salo lang,” as they justified it when the group’s pictures became viral in social media.
Then there was the mayor of San Mateo, Pangasinan who held also a birthday party. It was attended by the chief of police of the town, who was later relieved of his duties. Administrative and criminal cases should have been filed against the mayor. As we know now, only administrative ones were filed.
As to Maj. Gen. Sinas, an administrative case was filed against him by the police’s internal affairs. How about criminal cases?
If there was really a serious effort to impartially investigate these cases and deal with these people in accordance with the law, then the first step was to preventively suspend them so they could not influence the investigation or tamper with the evidence, including witnesses. Then come up with punishments quickly. Such will impress upon the people that the government is not fooling around but is serious in enforcing quarantine rules.
As these very recent cases should be golden opportunities for us to start building in the minds of the public that there are no sacred cows when the law is violated, more so in times of emergency as what we are in now. There can be privileges or perks for every position but the implementation of the law must be strict when public health or the lives of citizens are at stake. It should be our officials in the forefront when it came to observance of the discipline required.
Crises might be unfortunate but they usually present golden opportunities as what Covid-19 did with these cases. These were chances for us to really start slaying the ugly head of abuse of power which is our national scourge.
But this will not happen. Already, authorities are just dragging their feet on these cases to wait for the public anger to cool down. Then the culprits will be absolved of any liability. The President even retained Maj. Gen. Sinas in his post. The Pangasinan mayor is still sitting as such.
So the thinking that those in power have the right to abuse the people will keep on going. **