We were promised safe streets.
And yet, in a well-lit stretch in the middle of the country’s Central Business District, a woman was dragged by two men into a waiting van. Her screams for help stunned bystanders, most of whom were coming from office buildings and malls. It wasn’t in the dead of night either — it happened at around 9 p.m., still early by Makati standards. Ideally, a main road populated by offices would have patrol and CCTVs, but it seems that if reports of the incident didn’t make the social media rounds, the police wouldn’t have done anything. Not that they’ve been busy at work — in fact, this is the latest in a string of abduction cases in the country that’ve been quietly piling up, seemingly ignored by authorities to hide that these cases exist in the first place.
With a government like ours, some of these abduction cases may very well be a ruse. Earlier today, the Makati police revealed that they were able to recover evidence from the scene, and these documents allegedly fell from the van. The video that made the rounds clearly didn’t show anything, and as we all know from tokhang, planted evidence is the local police’s go-to choice: both to implicate, and to show they’re doing something. Aside from actual cases of felony are possibly ones driven by motive: to give reason to martial law, to justify installing China-funded CCTVs around the country.
The police force’s inability to do what they were sworn to do — to serve and protect — isn’t surprising too, but it’s infuriating all the same. What can you expect from men who thrive on encouraging vigilantes? These men will never walk the streets on their own, they won’t have to fear disappearing without a trace. They will never be dragged away, screaming for their life. In their chauffeured cars and their fancy subdivisions, our lives will never be as important, and as safe, as theirs.
These men will never walk the streets on their own, they won’t have to fear disappearing without a trace. They will never be dragged away, screaming for their life.
It’s scary that our safety relies on social media now — a concerned citizen’s video was what helped kickstart an investigation after all.
We’re resorting to install location-sharing apps like Find My and Life 360 so our family and friends will know where we are, we set up our phone’s SOS feature. We’re told to be vigilant: to walk by buildings where there’s security, to walk in groups. To keep our head up, to only listen to one earphone, this is our way of life now: making do with how flawed the system is, because we can’t afford not to. For some reason, our struggles day to day aren’t enough. It’s not enough that our 9-to-5 jobs don’t pay living wages. The supposedly non-existent transportation crisis keeps us waiting in line and in traffic for hours. We’re affected by water rationing, price hikes, and red-tagging. Rent is at an all-time high. Now, on top of all these, we now have to worry about public safety, too. Because if we won’t care, who will?
We’re not asking for much. We’re not asking for the moon here — we’re asking you, the government, to simply do your jobs. If we were political scions, have action-star pasts, or had presscons where we cried, we would’ve gladly risen to the occasion. But we’re not. In your minds, we’re nothing but mindless citizens who’ll eat up anything. An envelope with pertinent data left behind a la teleserye? That’ll work. Saying that it happened around 1 a.m. even if the tweets were posted around 9 p.m.? They won’t notice. But get this: we’re not dumb. We may have given you the power, but that wasn’t a transaction. We may be shaken by everything, but we live in a democratic country after all. You should be scared.
Because one day, when the revolution finally comes in and you’re stripped of your chauffeured cars and fancy houses, be ready: you’ll beg for safer streets yourselves.