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EGALITARIAN |Aggression is Abrasion: Philosophizing Malasakit in Policing

Many of us may have heard about MKK=K program of the PNP Chief PGen Rodolfo Azurin, Jr. Some perhaps have danced to the tune of Life is Beautiful video contents of the PNP.

Two weeks ago, I happen to join the general in his command conference where I presented the Safety, Trust and Respect Indices of Davao Region. 

I will talk about the findings of the study in the coming days, but allow me to use this time to share my understanding of the Malasakit program, the empathy in the life of police work.

Sciences reveal that tough-on-crime position does not necessarily result in crime deterrence; the impact of tough response to crimes like violent crimes, property and drug offenses are seen to have very little impact on public safety. 

Instead, with wider and more frequent arrests and lower conviction and longer incarcerations, criminals tend to develop new set of followers whenever they are placed together awaiting trials and convictions, and serving their jail terms. 

These followers become dedicated and serious violators and offenders themselves. 

The stronger and tougher stance on crime only lead to binding of the social and economic forces that make criminal activities attractive, and in turn the society gets more confused of the crime motivations. 

Theoretically, tough-on-crimes stance is everything that offends the democratic fabric of reasonable society. 

The social values that are established time immemorial in democratic states including impartiality, integrity, and independence erode the systems and structure of care, generosity and paternal role of the state to its citizens.

The instruments of the law enforcement cannot implement what it is not, and effectively implement what it is naturally endowed with. 

The PNP is civilian in nature, and the very expectations on the police is to be civil, tolerant and moral. 

Morality is denied at the instance violence is used as a platform and reference for police response. Violence and aggression are the anti-thesis of safety and order, which the police force took oath to protect. 

Aggression is therefore an abrasion to the society 

The work of Warner and Caputo (1987) revealed that the criminals’ knowledge on the crime do not deter them from violating the law, rather their fear of harm lies on their weighing process of the punishment. 

Their idea of punishment is not limited to the jail term, but on the seriousness of the crime as regards all other violations, and how the society evaluate such crime. If it is economic reason, society will likely forget, but if it insults the foundation of human dignity, the society will incarcerate the person and would work for a wider and bigger punishment, as an after effect.

This finding leads us to think that the offensiveness and harm that the criminal weighs on is not limited on the legal punishments as established by the law, but by those imputed by the society. 

So, it is the society, in general, that determines the unacceptability of the crime being committed, and not the police. The police ensure public safety, and ensure public security.

[Adrian Tamayo is the head of the Public Relations of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA). He teaches economics at the Graduate School of the University of Mindanao and currently on a scholarship grant for a Master of Public Safety Administration or MPSA at the Philippine Public Safety College of the DILG.]


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