LAST Friday, I and my companions were cruising along Roxas Boulevard when, upon reaching the stoplight at the corner of T.M. Kalaw near the Museo Pambata, a young man definitely no longer a minor -- approached our vehicle, sprayed it with soapy water and went on to wipe it, despite us signalling him beforehand not to go on with it, since our car had diamond gloss and soap dripping from the window will damage the gloss.
When we told the guy that he should have asked first, he banged his wiper on the windshield, gave the naughty finger and then dished out invectives, stopping only when I raised my cellphone to take
a video of him.
The guy then went on doing the same thing to all the other cars behind us and just as I was about to
record, the light went green. I went straight to the Ermita Police Station which was just a few meters away
from the place where the harassment took place. I was still wearing my ID since I just came from a coverage and also introduced myself properly and then went on to complain and showed the police the picture of the said guy.
The desk policeman directed the one beside him to radio and then I was told to wait, that they have to contact the tourist police, etcetera, blahblah. Since I left my companions at the Manila Hotel to lodge the complaint and did not expect it would take that long at least 30 minutes just to wait for someone to ‘respond,’ I excused myself and said I will just return, specially since I was told had picked up someone and asked me to identify. I asked to come later but was told that they already turned over the one they picked up to the Rizal Outpost.
On our way to the said outpost, we passed by the same area to check and to our dismay, found the suspect still there, continuing the same kind of harassment to other motorists.
Yesterday, I was at the regular breakfast get-together with former Mayor Fred Lim and former Maj. Abner
Afuang, two of the country’s most famous bemedalled former police officers, whose life story had in fact been turned into movies owing to their historic feats.
There were also retired Manila policemen present. Without telling them that I was the one involved, I asked them what they would have done if they were the policemen who received the complaint. Without mincing words, both Lim and Afuang gave the same firm answer. They would ask the complainant to go with them right away, visit the area where the ha rassment took place, point if the suspect is still there and have him taken to the police station. The rest said the same thing. But that is them and sad to say, the likes of Lim and Afuang among policemen these days are no longer in abundance.
I shudder at the thought of common, ordinary individuals going to the Ermita Police for help. I already felt it strange when no one from the desk even bothered to look at the picture of the guy as I showed it. Too, the long wait for action makes the complaint useless, since the subject of complaint might have been long gone before the police acts, funnily, just like in the movies.
The said area where we fell victim to harassment is a major, national road located a stone’s throw away
from the US Embassy and major tourist attractions like the Museo Pambata, Manila Ocean Park, Café Rizal, Harbor View, Quirino Grandstand, the historic Manila Hotel, Luneta Hotel and Rizal Park, among others. It is definitely a tourist area and yet, a pack of such ‘wiper boys’ who are even sometimes sniffing solvent openly are there, day in, day out, harassing motorists and even foreigners passing by the area. The presence of these drug-crazed pack is not only a major eyesore but moreso, a major smack on the face of the Manila policemen who are supposed to protect the citizenry from harm’s way, specially if there is a complaint already being lodged before them. If the ordinary victims cannot expect any quick action on the part of the police, who else can the citizenry turn to? This is of course not a sweeping statement because I’m sure not all Manila policemen are like the ones I encountered.
As Lim and Afuang had also both said, cops should respond even when they are off duty, simply because it is their sworn duty ‘to serve and protect.’ No less than Mayor Isko Moreno has called on the Manila Police District to bring back the respect of the citizenry on the police when he spoke at its recent anniversary celebration. Sadly, to some police- men these days again, I am not saying all the supposed PNP motto ‘to serve and protect’ have ceased to be the noble guide that makes them worthy of their authority and uniform. Arghh.
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