‘Minors as imminent threat?’: UST students’ encounter with Manila cop fuels loss of trust in police

December 21, 2022 - 11:55 AM
Photo shows police officers (The Philippine STAR/Edd Gumban)

The loss of trust in the police was a subject of discussion online after uniformed personnel confronted and showed his gun to a group of high school students from the University of Santo Tomas

GMA News reported that on Sunday evening, Police Corporal Marvin Castro approached the student-athletes ages 12 to 17 years old for being noisy.

The minors, who are still wearing their medals and uniforms, were walking along Sampaloc, Manila after winning a judo competition. 

“Kala namin sa una parang sasabihan lang kami ng congratulations, parang ganun. Parang agresibo kaagad,” one of the students said in an interview. 

One of the minors said that Castro pulled out his firearm and handcuffs and invited the students to ride the police mobile. 

The students contacted their coach to seek help. 

This led to a confrontation at a barangay hall where Castro apologized to the students and their parents and coaches. 

“Sinasaway ko po sila, ayaw nilang pakinggan. Tapos pinapatigil ko po sila, ayaw nilang tumigil,” the police explained. He claimed he felt threatened after the students did not follow him. 

Castro’s explanation was echoed by Manila Police District Director Police Brigadier General Andre Dizon when the issue was brought to the police station.

Dizon claimed that Castro felt “imminent danger” in the presence of the students. 

“Nung sinita niya nag-akma na parang susugurin siya. Kaya nabanggit ng ating station commander, napahawak sa baril niya ‘yung police natin. Naniguro lang siya na ‘yung self-defense ang kaniyang ipapairal po doon. As long as hindi po niya ‘yun tinutok, wala po siyang intensiyon na barilin po,” Dizon said.

Meanwhile, one of the parents said that during their visit to the police station, they were asked to just drop the complaint in the spirit of Christmas. 

“Kinausap kami na baka raw puwedeng pa-Christmas na lang daw iyon, na kung puwede raw ayusin na lang, kausapin na lang kasi mabait daw ‘yung Castro,” the parent said.

“Paano kung may nangyari sa anak namin? Hindi puwedeng pa-Christmas ‘yun. ‘Yung psychological effect na nangyari sa kanila, takot na sila lumabas, takot na sila pumasok sa school. Hindi pa-Christmas ‘yun,” she continued.

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Loss of trust in the police 

The incident involving the UST students sparked a discussion on the youth’s lack of trust in the police. 

Many of them said they are scared to see policemen and do not feel safe when they are around.

“Sa panahon ngayon parang katakot ng makakita ng pulis lalo pa pag lapitan ka na,” a TikTok user commented. 

“Sa panahon ngayon [ang] hirap pag katiwalaan mga pulis tulad ni sir,” an online user said. 

“Madami ng ‘di naniniwala sa mga pulis na yan,” a social media user said. 

“I’d be sh*****g in my pants if that policeman tries to point a gun at me. Imbes na sila yung magpoprotekta,” a social media user said

“Kaya takot ako sa pulis. Kating-kati bumaril,” a Twitter user wrote

“Pano ka magtitiwala sa pulis?” an online user asked

“Hindi safe sa criminal, hindi din safe sa mga pulis. Hay nako,” a TikTok user lamented. 

“Ganyan ba ang ‘to serve and protect’?” a Twitter user asked

Some social media users also questioned the claim of the police that there is an “imminent threat” which prompted Castro to show his gun to the students. 

“Hahahaha pulis natakot sa mga bata????” a TikTok user commented. 

“Minors + UST uniform + UAAP Medals = imminent threat kaya dapat hawakan ang baril at dalin sila sa station #PNP #Bullying,” a Twitter user said.   

“The kids [just] want to win a chip for their schools… those are literally grades 7-10, you’re a grown man in uniform and armed ikaw pa na [threatened]??? ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards)!!!!” a social media user commented

The Manila Police District said that it is investigating the incident. 

It added that Castro is no longer allowed to patrol the area. He was also asked to surrender his gun.  

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