The Atimonan massacre will go down in history as the Army Special Forces’ “finest” hour.
They killed 13 “criminals” without incurring a single casualty in a one-way shoot-out.
In firefights with New People Army (NPA) and Moro rebels, the Special Forces had always lost.
Because of their feat in Atimonan, the rebels must be doubling up in laughter.
And the rebels have reason to rejoice: The citizenry has lost trust in the Special Forces.
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Why did soldiers take part in a purely police operation?
The policemen who sought the help of the Special Forces in a mission to supposedly interdict armed criminals could not have claimed they lacked men.
The Police Regional Office (PRO) 4-A in Southern Tagalog has a public safety battalion headed by Senior Supt. Glenn Dumlao of the Dacer-Corbito murder fame.
The leader of the Special Forces, Lt. Col. Monico Abang, could have begged off when he was asked by the police for reinforcement.
He could have said that the Army is only for fighting insurgents and foreign aggressors, not ordinary criminals.
So, why didn’t Abang turn down the request for reinforcement?
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Now is the right time for Director General Alan Purisima to introduce wide-ranging reforms in the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Whatever he asks his Commander-in-Chief, President Noy, and Congress in connection with reforming the PNP will surely be granted because the Atimonan massacre has become a hot topic.
For example, Purisima might ask Congress to amend the law accepting only college graduates into the PNP.
Insubordination by low-ranking cops stems from their supposedly “high education.”
The defunct Philippine Constabulary, forerunner of the PNP, was a more disciplined organization because high school graduates were accepted into its rank and file.
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Another aspect of reforming the PNP is to give superiors the power to dismiss outright—and detain for criminal investigation—any member who has flagrantly committed a grave offense.
At present, cops who are charged with serious criminal offenses, like murder, remain in the service and even get promoted because of the long process of litigation.
Examples of such notorious cops are Supt. Hansel Marantan, charged with killing 40 persons, and Senior Supt. Glenn Dumlao, who was linked to the abduction-murder of publicist Bubby Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.
Marantan and Dumlao are still in the service—and even got promoted—despite the grave offenses imputed to them because the wheels of justice grind so exceedingly slow.
Summary dismissal proceedings against cops should be just that: Summary or fast.
It should last not more than a month.
Most administrative cases against policemen take years to finish.
The result is that complainants eventually lose interest and so the cases are dropped.
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The drug smuggling case against my friend, businessman Lepeng Wee of Zamboanga City has been dismissed by the Court of Appeals.
Wee, a billionaire, was never a smuggler, much more a drug trafficker.
I should know, otherwise I would never go near a drug trafficker whom I consider a form of lowlife.
The drug smuggling case against him was fabricated.