Under the tanods' watch
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.