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Good cop, bad cop

Just six months after the horrific video of the double murder cum execution of mother and son tandem Sonya and Frank Anthony Gregorio by off duty cop Jonel Nuezca in Paniqui, Tarlac went viral on social media, another cop in Fairview, Quezon City got himself caught on video murdering an unarmed grandmother in cold blood.

Police MSgt. Hensie Zinampan is the star of the grainy night time 2 and a half minute video. It shows the drunk cop approaching unarmed 52-year-old Lilybeth Valdez with his cocked gun hidden behind his back. After threatening her, he is seen grabbing her hair and pulling her head back before shooting her point blank. As he walks away, the victim’s family can be heard helplessly weeping after witnessing another classic example of good old fashioned brutality.

In both cases, the “bad” cops who supposedly do not represent President Duterte’s National Police used their firearms at point blank range, execution style, against an unarmed female, in plain view of witnesses who were most likely family members of their victims. The assumption here is that they used their taxpayer funded service firearms that the present administration has inexplicably allowed them to carry even when off duty/enraged/drunk. The motive for the murders is that there was an argument beforehand with another family member, the killer cops were pissed off and murder is their way of blowing off steam.

The irony of this newest murder perpetuated by a cop is that when the Nuezca issue blew up in December 2020, Zinampan was one of those supposedly “good” cops who tried to defend the PNP on social media. On December 29, 2020 he even posted on Facebook “I am proud to be a good cop… the sin of Nuezca is not the sin of the PNP.” Ergo, he knew that shooting an unarmed civilian dead with your service firearm is a bad cop thing. And yet, six months after, the Facebook good cop exposes his true colors and murders another helpless woman while getting caught on video.

In both cases, if there had been no video evidence, the standard narrative of “nanlaban” would’ve been invoked by the cop in question and nobody would’ve known better. The PNP has demonstrated in this past few years just how deadly people are in this supposedly drug-addled country. Whenever there is no video evidence and all we can depend on is the testimonial evidence of the cops: little children, big children, teenagers, grandmothers, grandfathers always go for their gun and ultimately get shot dead in self defense.

We have seen what bad cops do but they cannot be the majority in an organization as big as the PNP. There must be a plethora of good cops in our police force but the problem is that they could be the silent type who has been trained to look the other way in the face of evil being disguised as well-intentioned policing. They probably don’t agree with the extreme tactics being employed by their overzealous colleagues but they don’t do anything about those irregularities and abuses either. Just because some people don’t do bad things, they console themselves that they are the good ones already.

If our idea of a good cop is the one that helps an old lady cross the street, our standards and expectations must be pretty low.

A passive attitude towards brutality and abuse may work with regular townspeople who don’t want to get into trouble and can’t defend themselves, but for cops, the standard for “good” should be a little bit higher. How are these “good” guys supposed to fight the bad guys if they cannot even identify the bad guys doing terrible things to helpless people right in front of them?

Aside from their hero worship of a leader who claims to own them while reveling at the death and destruction of anyone labeled as the enemy for whatsoever reason, the second worst thing that has happened to the country’s policemen is our government allowing them to take their firearms with them when off duty. Guns that were purchased using our taxes in the hands of an off duty cop makes them armed vigilantes at the very least and for the psychologically unstable ones, murderous drunk or rampaging madmen at the worst. We know of at least two unarmed women who would still be alive today if cops weren’t always armed and dangerous. What bothers me more are the numbers of men, women and children who were killed without the benefit of video evidence.

Even after the Nuezca and Zinampan cases, our PNP is still operating on the assumption of regularity. Those guys were just bad apples and the rest are peachy. All cops can still take their guns home because they are good and giving them guns is still a good idea. We don’t know how many unarmed and helpless citizens will have to die on video before the PNP leadership will raise the alarm and put in place the measures and safeguards to ensure that these sort of killings never happen again.

Until then, just pray that the armed cops you encounter: whether in their war-footing camouflage uniforms, or in their sando, shorts and slippers are the good ones who aren’t in a bad mood. Because if a cop like Zinampan who was proclaimed “good” six months ago can turn suddenly evil, nobody really knows what these persons armed by our government are capable of.*

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