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Cops’ gimmicks bringing anxiety to the public must be stopped — Sinas

Gimmicks of police officers which could cause anxiety to the general public must be stopped, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Debold Sinas said on Thursday.

In a television interview, Sinas was asked for his reaction about the prank supposedly made by the Cebu City Police where its men pretended to arrest civilians but in reality, will just give them Christmas gifts.

According to local reports, police would issue warrants of arrest to some civilians. Later on, they would be brought to the police vehicle only to find out that they will be given gifts. The said gimmick was dubbed as "arrestoguinaldo."

Sinas said the gimmick is not part of his directive to police officers.

"Wala naman 'yun sa regular directive namin. Baka initiative lang po ng mga lower units natin. Titingnan ko po kung ano ang nangyari, maybe kung it's good, then we could support it but if it already caused anxiety sa  publiko at sa mga kababayan natin, I will direct them to stop such practices po," Sinas told CNN-Philippines.

Sinas admitted that he is not privy with this gimmick, noting that he will still talk to the police officers involved in this matter.

"Alamin ko pa po kung ano ang sitwasyon na 'yan baka kung ano 'yung gimmick ng pulis natin doon. I have no actual knowledge po doon," Sinas said.

"Maybe, I'll talk to those in charge po doon, at alamin kung how it was carried out, kung ano 'yung intention, ano 'yung program. Baka sa kanila lang po 'yun and they want just to impress people," he added.

Foreign videos

PNP spokesman Police Brigadier General Ildebrandi Usana told GMA News Online that the prank was an imitation of what the local police see in foreign videos.

"The intention by a group of police officers is to make a 'target victim fall into their trap' and then make fun out of a post-staged act revelation," Usana said.

"To the person/s subject of that scenario, they may end up shocked or laughing as the result of such unexpected situation. We have seen this in some local reality programs naman po. Some have worked, some have not," he explained.

However, Usana admitted that in the ethical standards of the PNP, the gimmick is not good for the image of policemen.

"Dapat po ang mga pulis natin ay maayos sa pakikitungo sa mga mamamayan... Di po ito kailangang haluan ng anumang masasabing panilinlang, anuman po ang motibo," Usana said.

"Bagamat ang mga ganyang klaseng pranks ay nag-trending sa ibang bansa, hindi po ibig sabihin maging part ito ng kaisipan sa hanay ng kapulisan na 'mambiktima' ng mga inosenteng sibilyan," he added.

According to Usana, the PNP is open if the "victims" of this prank will decide to file a formal complaint against the gimmick.

Some individuals as well as netizens in social media have criticized the said prank of the Cebu City Police.

In a press statement, Bayan Muna lawmaker Ferdinand Gaite slammed the prank, saying it is just bringing unnecessary stress to its targets. Gaite said the gimmick should be stopped.

"Instead of holiday cheers this ill-conceived gimmick brings chills and causes unwarranted stress and shame to its victims, people who might already be under a lot of stress due to the pandemic and the bad economy. Hindi nakakatuwa. Itigil na lang nila 'yan," Gaite said.

"Pwede nga maaresto ang isang sibilyan kung mag-prank call siya sa PNP Hotline, tapos ganitong gimmick pa ang naisipan nila, hindi talaga maganda. Pasko po ang parating, not April Fool's," he added.

Gaite said police could give Christmas gifts "without any distasteful humor."

He also said the PNP should be "more circumspect about this considering all the anomalies the institution is facing, including tokhang which are again being brought to light following the recent statement of the International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor." — RSJ, GMA News