I NORMALLY don’t write about myself. After all, I’m no megalomaniac. Really. Okay, maybe a tad.
So what if I have an acting award and have been nominated several times? Or that the nominating bodies included Gawad Urian or Gawad CCP, just two prestigious national institutions. Who cares, right?
Seriously, who’d want to know where I went or what I did or who I met or what I ate? (But if you do, whoever you are, I’d like to meet you. You can email me. Or you can text.)
So what makes today any different? Hmm. Come to think of it, nothing really. So I guess I’ll write about what the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) is doing to beef up its much maligned image.
Ever since 11-year-old Chastity Mirabiles died last April, allegedly after she was rescued by members of Police Station 2, the CCPO has received several beatings from human rights groups and civil society organizations.
After all, the implication was very serious. The autopsy conducted by Dr. Rene Cam, NBI 7 medico-legal officer, showed that Chastity died because of “blunt traumatic injuries” to the chest and abdomen. He also found bruises on her right arm, chest, armpit and abdomen.
Chastity was allegedly among 14 street children who were rounded up by police on Easter Sunday, wrote Sun.Star Cebu’s Kevin A. Lagunda. And she died on the day she was released, along with the other street children, after allegedly spending the night at the station.
“The blunt injuries could have been caused by wood or anything that can cause a hematoma. A hematoma is the accumulation of blood in the tissues due to a blunt injury. Pwede gibunalan, pwede gisumbag (She may have been beaten or punched),” Cam told reporters.
Because of that incident, accusations flew that police brutality was alive and well here in Cebu.
The main target was Wildemar Tiu, Police Station 2 chief. It didn’t help that other street children had come out to say that they, too, had suffered in the hands of local police.
One girl accused Tiu of hitting her on the head while another policeman allegedly stunned her with a stun gun when she and other minors were rounded up near the Fuente rotunda earlier this year. One woman claiming to be a prostitute also accused Tiu of molesting her inside the station.
It was unfair to Tiu, who was out of the country on vacation when the fiasco broke out, because he couldn’t defend himself. It’s a good thing he’s back and reporting to work today. He can finally answer all his detractors. Right?
As for the CCPO, it has launched several charm offensives to try to change public perception like conducting seminars for its personnel on the proper handling of minors and children in conflict with the law.
Its latest took place last Monday in front of the Don Carlos A. Gothong Memorial High School. Several policemen joined five street children dressed in police uniforms as they danced to several upbeat tunes. Afterwards, they distributed free school supplies and flyers on security tips to students.
Senior Insp. Chuck Barandog, chief of the San Nicolas Station, picked the five street children because they apparently like to hang outside the station. He also believes that the children deserve all the help they can get. The fact that three of the children want to join the force when they grow up is a propaganda bonus.
Barandog said he hopes the activity will remind all street children that the police are not their enemies. After all, the police motto is “to serve and to protect.” Oh, and yeah, “to dance.”