Un­der the tan­ods' watch

The Freeman - - OPINION -

While grow­ing up, the tan­ods in our barangay be­came my good friends. I used to al­ways walk from our pri­vate sub­di­vi­sion to the shanties to meet a few friends and fam­ily dur­ing free af­ter­noons. That's where I met the tan­ods who were good men. They al­ways walked around with this stern face but made sure that all the chil­dren were safe while play­ing at the bas­ket­ball court. Now that I sel­dom visit these ar­eas, I still see them walk­ing the streets in our barangay. I honk my car's horn when­ever I come across them and it's the same fa­mil­iar smile that I knew when I was still a child.

Apart from them be­ing good friends, the tan­ods in our area were in­stru­men­tal in fix­ing feuds be­tween my fam­ily and our neigh­bor. Many times have we com­plained about the house across us be­cause of their in­de­cent be­hav­ior which dis­rupts our peace at times. They also kept an en­dan­gered bird (which was very noisy), which we knew was against the law. The tan­ods were there to serve the sub­poena, to make sure we got the barangay hall safe for the hear­ings, and that we went home un­harmed.

How­ever, this par­tic­u­lar in­ci­dent in Barangay Er­mita is quite pe­cu­liar. The barangay it­self had a de­ten­tion cell to hold those ap­pre­hend through cit­i­zen's ar­rest. On top of that the tanod iden­ti­fied as Jun­nel Sanchez shot dead their de­tainee. He al­leges the man whom they caught in the act try­ing to steal from a store in Free­dom Park, tried to es­cape, thus prompt­ing him to use his per­sonal firearm. He said he owned a gun be­cause of his many en­e­mies in their fight against il­le­gal drugs.

I have never heard of a barangay tanod bring­ing a firearm, just that. It has been ba­sic pro­to­col to call on the proper au­thor­i­ties such as the po­lice to set­tle mat­ters that are be­yond their ju­ris­dic­tion when it comes to peace and or­der. The po­lice, who are sit­u­ated in easy-to-ac­cess ar­eas, are al­ways on top of the game when it comes to curb­ing crim­i­nal­ity. The tan­ods work hand-in-hand with them, not above them.

Some­times it's a won­der where the law stands in a so­ci­ety that can bend if not break the rules. It is con­fus­ing at times. The Depart­ment of In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment can al­ways in­ter­fere but they too give ex­cep­tions to rules on a case-to-case ba­sis.

Barangay Er­mita will al­ways be hounded by con­tro­versy. If not be­cause of their of­fi­cials, it is be­cause of their tan­ods and how they will run their barangay. Un­til to­day they are faced with prob­lems of il­le­gal drugs, gam­bling, and il­le­gal vend­ing. Even an of­fi­cer-in-charge can­not ad­dress all these prob­lems at once. I guess, what one needs at the end of the day is com­mu­nity en­gage­ment with the res­i­dents in the area. They know the place bet­ter than any­one. Also, co­op­er­a­tion with the au­thor­i­ties is highly im­por­tant.

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