I was late, Mr. Renaud Meyer of UNDP was delivering his message when I arrived. My memo says 9:30a.m. and I planned to leave at 9a.m., when I received a call asking where am I. My office is in the third floor and entrance is on the first building in front, we had this building constructed when we were flooded during typhoon Ondoy. Called for the driver before I went down, I thought I still have time to read the RBMES notes I printed. My general friend and Boyie, the Program Manager of UNDP were chatting at the entrance of the hall and my cap was taken by someone so I can go in.
There are lots of colors that greeted me, the Army in green, the Air force in white and blue, the PNPA cadets in maroon, the NGOs with their different colors of yellow, blue, pink, brown, black, Cookie Diokno in black dress (she gave me Distinction, the highest grade in AIM), Chair Etta in brown, the police officers in blue, the foreigners mostly in black suit and Boyie in casual blue shirt. I should have brought my camera, the lady police officer in front of me has this amazing bun with crystals on her hair, diamonds on her ears and thickly curled eyelashes- nice make-up.
There was a dialogue, introduction and highlights of the manual, speech of Secretary of the Interior and Local Government defending the police officers and saying there should be culture of human rights with equal rights not only to victims and subject of police abuses but also that of the police whenever they were killed by landmines, etc. Chair Etta of CHR in her closing speech told the PNP to stop defending themselves and start getting the respect of the public to be able to get their support and also as the protector of the people, the Duty Holder, it is incumbent upon them to fulfill these rights and it would be double whammy if the protector will be the violator, so there is no equal footing here, to which I agree. Those who attended the National Educators Human Rights Congress in Tagaytay last year are still praising me for my presentation and discussions.
Before the closing speech of chair Etta, there was an open forum wherein the fisher folks of Laguna Lake are complaining of the treatment they are getting from the government agencies including the police who are not treating them well, there is a story of someone in jail and also the complain of being made to watch the Lake as volunteers. Nobody came forward when the emcee asked for comment from government agencies. I asked the General to answer, he said that I should answer, so up in front of everyone I addressed the query and insinuations with as much humility as I can. First I introduced myself and asked for data on the incarcerated member of this fisherfolk group, told him to give it to me or the General, Chief of PNP Human Rights Affairs Office and we will try our best to address the case and provide a lawyer, as to watching the lake which is the source of their livelihood, it is not an imposed duty but an act of volunteerism since the police cannot be there all the time. Reminded them what Sir Robert Peel has said: “the police is the public and the public is the police” meaning, peace and order is a shared responsibility of the communities, of everyone. I babbled in a soft voice appealing to both reason and emotion while the room is so silent (watch a woman talk). I heard loud clapping of hands when I turn my back to go to my seat.
CHR Commisioner Mamauag told me I should be called a fiscalizer for that brief talk. I also made the General pay for my manual and CD copy, that’s PhP900.00. I like this gathering when you see your peers and old acquaintances and new ones too, exchanging business cards and eating while talking. I want to get a hang of the word – fiscalizer. Half a days’ work.