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Book offers peek into the lives of police cadets in academy

/ 03:00 AM June 09, 2016

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CAMP GEN. MARIANO CASTAÑEDA, Cavite—Except during their annual graduation rites, police cadets catch the public eye only in a few, rare occasions.

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Unknown to many, about 600 cadets of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) spent sleepless weeks at television and social welfare stations, repacking thousands of goods for the victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in 2013.

Chief Insp. Ritchie Yatar, spokesperson of the PNPA based in Silang town in Cavite province, said many would still think of the cadets as the overdisciplined students sporting crew cuts and speaking monotonous lines punctuated with “Sir, yes, Sir!”

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“We’re not robots,” Yatar said. “We’re humans, too.”

“Humanizing” the police cadets and bringing the academy closer to the public are reasons the PNPA came up with the coffee-table book, “36 Buttons: 36 Classes of Public Safety Leaders Produced Since 1978.”

Launched on May 30, the 9.5 inches by 15 inches, 336-page book is the first to showcase images of the police academy over the last three decades.

The book is presented in seven chapters, covering the academy’s history since it was established in 1977. It offers readers a peek into the everyday life of a cadet—from his morning exercise to his classroom activities down to outreach programs.

It also features some of the PNPA’s outstanding alumni, the story of its first female graduate, and prominent personalities, among them former President Fidel Ramos and former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan III.

These people, Yatar said, were instrumental in the creation of the country’s only public safety school that caters to the PNP, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and the Bureau of Fire.

Gala uniform

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Yatar’s office took about a year to finish the book because the PNPA had to depend on the support of its alumni, which, he said, came in slowly.

The book title was inspired by the cadets’ gala uniform, which is worn only during special occasions, which has 36 buttons. In the book, the buttons represent the 36 PNP classes from 1979 to 2015.

In his author’s note, Yatar, 40, a member of the PNPA “Sinag-laya” Class of 2002, however, pointed out that the gala uniform was inspired by what the soldiers fighting in the American-British wars used.

“Why don’t we wear something else that is close to what our revolutionaries had worn?” said Yatar, adding that uniforms play a part in shaping the nation’s identity.

SAF 44

While the PNPA is young compared with the Baguio City-based Philippine Military Academy (PMA, established in 1898), Yatar believed it is important to chronicle the academy’s history “for us to see where we are headed.”

“This book also serves as a wake-up call to the academy and to the alumni that we have to evolve, lest we would be left behind,” he said.

Yatar said publishing the book was like opening the gates of the academy to the public. By doing so, he hopes the youth would take interest in entering the academy to become public safety officers.

“So far, there are already 6,000 of us (graduates from the PNPA). How things are being done inside the academy is reflected in our performance outside [of it],” he said.

Four pages are devoted to the 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) troopers, collectively known as the SAF 44, who died in an antiterrorist mission in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province in January 2015. Of the 44, six were PNPA alumni.

(The PNPA is scheduled to launch “36 Buttons: 36 Classes of Public Safety Leaders Produced Since 1978” in Davao and Cagayan de Oro cities this month. Each hardbound book costs P4,500. Proceeds from its sale will go to the academy, Lakan Foundation and families of the SAF 44.)

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TAGS: academy, cadet, Philippine National Police Academy, PNPA, saf44
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