THE Philippine National Police (PNP) stands center stage to this day; and, living these moments, they sure darn wish they were not. It is sure darn hard watching one’s cherished organization dragged deep in the muck. Chiefly, to one who works day and night giving true meaning to one’s oath, in this case, “To serve and protect.”

Until, that fateful day – that day when the supposed “scalawag squads” chose to taint their uniforms black and bloody-red - morale has been high. Unprecedented, in fact. No less than the President had their backs. Chief Bato’s every move, from the serious to the seemingly frivolous, had DU30’s blessings. And being in government, I’d be dancing daily on Cloud 9 myself, listening to the Big Boss singing praises to homies of mine own.

Save for the stint of Sen. Lacson as Chief PNP, never before had we witnessed such encouraging sight. There was/is an aura of snappiness in the PNP - from the traffic cop to the COP, from the PD to the Chief PNP: that charismatic “Pambansang Ulo,” who everyone wishes was his or her kuya, pards, uncle and friend.

Their blue uniforms neatly tucked in, pressed crisp from seam to seam, their posture ramrod straight, our Police Officers quite stand out among the teeming masses of people and in the streets they patrol. That is undeniable Police presence. Among the majority, it is not even swagger; it is new-found self-respect. And, oh, in case you didn’t notice, even the “wang-wang” found real use anew.

So it is real sad, tragic even, to be witnessing such awful, unfortunate sight. All the gains, down the drain. In a matter of days. Courtesy of scattered squads of so-called “rogue cops.”

I commiserate. Not because I have friends in the PNP. But because these same friends are good and decent and dedicated to their work. And they, more than the scalawags, are what the PNP is all about.

True, the PNP, as the President and Chief Bato themselves admitted, there are “scalawags in uniform.” But this same admission also means that not all in uniform are scalawags, friend or no friend of mine. In fact, they are few, or scarce, especially in these parts. (The thing is, even if the dastardly acts are said to be random and not as rampant, they get to be sensationalized - precisely because THE perpetrators are law enforcers themselves.)

I grew up among cops, having spent all of my childhood days in Camp Bado Dangwa. Our relations had worth. All the cops then were either uncles, aunties, manongs or manangs. Those in the service still are to this day. This is the same relation that should govern our communities, I insist.

I aver. It is our duty, as citizens, to call out excesses made by the PNP or any government entity for that matter. Criticism has its use. And I believe, it must go on until something real, something concrete, something believable is done.

It should not stop there however. We too should learn to abandon that bad habit of blanket condemnation. It is counter-productive. Now, more than ever, more than our criticism, the PNP needs our support.

Often, we come across children being interviewed on TV and, always, we receive the most pure and candid of answers. Among poor, young boys in the hood or in the rice fields, it usually went like this: Anong gusto mong maging paglaki mo? … Pulis po…Bakit pulis? …Kase po, gusto kong ipagtanggol ang mga naaapi.

I guess some, if not, all in the PNP, might want to relive those days when they once wished “To serve and protect” the people, with malice toward none and with love, dedication and compassion for all.