A cop was killed one somber night,
They buried him today.
He gave his life to do a job.
A wooden box his pay.
Taps were played and the shots were fired
That signified the loss.
They echoed ‘cross the lonely land.
All eyes stared at the cross.
The folded flag was passed along
To his widow’s shaking hands…
The young lass, with tear-filled eyes,
Then turned and faced her mother.
“This promise I give, I vow today,
I’ll never give another.”
“Some day I too will wear the blue
And stand among the best.
I’ll serve my land and do my job,
Dad’s badge pinned to my chest.”
“But if I too should fall some day,
Fighting to hold that line,
Then take the badge from off my chest,
Give me my box of pine…”
“And take that badge and keep it bright,
For there will come another,
Who’ll pin it on a shirt of blue,
And swear that oath of honor…”
Though officers die, families cry,
Others will come along,
To take the badge so worn with pride,
To try and right the wrong.
– The Badge (via policelink)
The Philippine National Police stands on the philosophy of service, honor, and justice. In practice, these mean: To have served their country and fellow citizens is itself the award. To have died in that service, having conquered their personal fears and attachments, is the greatest honor they could leave behind. To have answered the call of mission is to have paved the way toward justice in the often turbulent and, paradoxically, seldom a straight path, quest for peace.
The 400 police members of the SAF knew they were going in for a major operation; that word alone is cue to prepare for the worst which is the mission may cost them their lives. Still, they went. Because that’s what cops do (although the issue is, why the police not the Armed Forces of the Philippines, say, the elite Marines? why are the police being military trained? but that’s for another post).
Why then do we who they have left behind and honored by their bravery and obedience to their mission, wail, get mad, and blame? We’re dishonoring them this way.
We’ve mixed up the honor these 44 deserve from us with whatever perceptions we have with the mission and ongoing peace negotiations with the MILF. First things first: give these 44 fallen police the honor and salutations they and their families and loved ones deserve (but please no more guilt traps that are being fed to the public i.e. the images of crying widows and children left behind– they’re being exploited in front of the nation and the world when what they need especially at this time is privacy and dignity to grieve over a private loss) and then on to the next concern.