The reputation of the Philippine police force today has been tarnished with front-page news of their alleged participations in extra-judicial killings, drug deals, police brutality, extortion and corruption—the same crimes which they were supposedly sworn to fight.
Of late, even Central Luzon policemen have been revealed to be involved in shady operations. The sacking of the Pampanga CIDG head in March 2014-- for re-selling seized shabu from legitimate raids-- is proof of how serious and entrenched the problem is, happening within the ranks of our so-called protectors and defenders.
There was a time when our Kapampangan policemen were dubbed as “the nation’s finest”, with a spotless reputation for their excellence in upholding law and order in the province. Leading the way is the San Fernando Police Force, which has been winning top awards under police chief Amando R. Cruz since its recognition in 1965 as Pampanga’s best.
In 1970, now known as the San Fernando Police Department, it first copped Best Police Force in the entire first PC Zone, which qualified them to compete for the national finals. In formal rites at Camp Crame, the San Fernando Police Dept. won the nation’s highest award for police organizations—the Municipal Police Force of the Year—garnering 93 out of 100 points.
Just as successful was the 173rd Philippine Constabulary (PC) of Angeles City, which was adjudged as the Best PC Company of the Year, thus sealing a double victory for Pampanga’s proud men in uniform.
The “fightingest police force" from San Fernando, led by Chief of Police Pablo Mañago, were cited for having no single administrative case against them; they also have the highest percentage of crimes solved. They also received merits for their military discipline and courtesy.
On the other hand, the 173rd PC of Angeles scored an amazing 914 points out of the 1000 perfect score. This is the first award for a PC contingent coming from Pampanga, considering the questionable image of the Philippine Constabulary in the region’s NPA hotbed. The company maintained its record of discipline and courtesy, with no reports of abuses and no court-martial charges against its members.
Under Maj. Teotimo Tangonan, the 173rd Company commander, the scope of their duties cover Angeles, Mabalacat, Porac and Magalang—which are considered Pampanga’s “hotspots”, prone to Huk attacks and violence. Back then, to see how efficient Pampanga’s police organizations were in keeping law and order, people just have to go to the capital town to watch the patrolmen in action—manning traffic and keeping things under control.
It is a different story for our police force now, who are getting a beating by the bad press they get every day. It will take more than feeble image-building efforts like “Gwapulis” and police pageant and talent winners to put the sheen back on the tarnished badges of our men in uniform. “Change is coming ”, the new administration promised, so let change come from within, starting with our young police cadets. Then perhaps, we will get our “nation’s finest” back. .