Since moving to the Philippines eight years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to experience and learn many different things in my new country.
Perhaps the most interesting and fulfilling experience has been that my wife and I have served the last seven years as officers in our local Barangay Police and also the Philippine National Police Anti-Drug Task Force in our town.
After being involved in a traffic accident six years ago we were both invited by the Philippine National Police to join the police department. We did, and after joining and taking the oath, (and an FBI background check from the States on me), we underwent several months of training in police procedures, Philippine criminal and family law and the “Pinoy” way of doing things under the watchful eye of the Barangay Captain and municipal Mayor.
Police service here is much different than in the States. The laws are less strict and are at times flexible depending on the situation and the case involved.
Also, it is an all volunteer force-no pay.
Although the type of crime here is the same as anywhere; in most cases justice for the offender and victim can be quite different from case to case except where a violent crime is committed or if it is a drug related offence.
The bulk of cases handled are of a family nature. Arguments, disagreements, and
Saturday night fights that are usually alcohol related.
Rather than putting every offender in jail and going to court; most cases are decided and adjudicated in the police station with the assistance of a police investigator such as my wife.
Satisfying justice here most often times involves only mending hurt feelings or the guilty person paying for a band aid for a cut or injury caused during a fight. A delicate situation doing it this way to be sure. But it seems much better to be able to send family members and friends home together, happy with the outcome rather than always filling jail cells and filling the bottomless pockets of lawyers as we would do back in the States. Not to mention, in most cases, being very rewarding to be able to help people this way.
Maybe us “know-it-all” Americans and others could learn a lesson in not only effective law enforcement, but effective human relations from these kind and gentle people.
I truly love living in the Philippines and serving these wonderful people as they teach me a different and perhaps a better way of doing things-- and more patients at the same time. Even if I am a slow learner at times…