January 23, 2018, 11:30 pm
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Stupidity kills

THE Philippine National Police chief said his men in Mandaluyong City were stupid because they did not know who to shoot at in a tense crime emergency, but at least, they were promptly at the scene, ready to fire, and fire they did, just that they shot at the wrong targets -- the people they are supposed to rescue.

They had no ill intentions, Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa stressed to media.  “Better stupid than ill intent.”

In summary, this was what happened on Dec. 28, 2017 in Mandaluyong City. A group of gasoline delivery boys had a quarrel with construction workers and Jonalyn Ambaon, the wife of a laborer, was shot in the head.  The fleeing assailant tipped barangay tanods (village watchmen) who were surprised by the gunfire that the “gunmen” might pass in a speeding vehicle minutes later.

So when a white Mitsubishi Adventure came rushing to take the wounded woman to a hospital, the gunwielding watchmen fired at the vehicle and its occupants.  Responding policemen, thinking that the barangay men were right, joined in the shooting, despite the motorists’ protestation that they were on an “emergency” and were taking a patient to the hospital. 

The mishap of mistaken identity occurred at the corner of Shaw Boulevard and Wack-Wack Road, a very busy intersection with many motorists and pedestrians as witnesses, and has become an embarrassing source of ridicule for the police.

On his policemen involved in the carnage, General Bato said, “It is better that they are stupid but are pure of heart than intelligent but have ill intentions.”

Before this incident, the nationwide police organization had been criticized for too many killings in the war against illegal drugs, and criminal or ill intent was hurled at them by human rights advocates and plain citizens.

This is an unfortunate shooting incident, which by the way happened also in the past, where innocent victims are at the receiving end of state law enforcers firing their guns, thinking that they were the bad guys.

Both shooting scenarios resulted in ordinary people being killed, lives of Filipinos being lost, for flimsy or no apparent reason, without regard to due process or the rule of law.

Both scenarios, too, point to the utter lack of police training on the part of the PNP, and of barangay operating procedures on the part of the village tanods.

And here comes the chief of the national police force, Director General Bato, saying he would rather err on the side of stupidity than having policemen who kill because of ill or criminal intent.

General Dela Rosa should be told that both stupidity and criminal intent result in precious lives being lost, and this is no way policemen drawing their salaries from the people should behave.
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