SPO3 Alberto C. Tadeo is a dedicated and devoted member of the Baguio City Police Office–Traffic Management Branch (BCPO-TMB). Motorists respect him for his unbiased implementation of traffic rules and regulations. His mere presence along major roads in the city sends a clear message to motorists to adhere to traffic rules and regulations or else they will get citation tickets for whatever violations they have committed. He earned enemies also for his uncompromising implementation of traffic rules and regulations, especially rampant traffic violators, but he has more friends both from visitors and local motorists.
SPO3 Tadeo’s presence along major roads in the city was put to a stop by his unceremonious, unjustified, and unwarranted transfer to Apayao simply for doing his job well without discrimination as a traffic supervisor and officer. In the morning of December 21, 2016, he flagged down a private motor vehicle in front of the city public market because he noticed that the vehicle violated the city’s existing number coding scheme. The occupants of the vehicle reportedly introduced themselves as fellow officers and that the vehicle was owned by a certain Senior Superintendent Gregorio Lim, the incumbent deputy regional director for administration of the Police Regional Office (PRO) in the Cordillera. Tadeo informed them that as police officers, they must adhere to traffic rules and regulations to prevent them from being charged and then allowed the vehicle to proceed to their journey.
A few days later, Tadeo received an order relieving him from his post at BCPO and ordering him to report to Apayao because of an alleged breach of internal discipline for reportedly coming out with side comments when he stopped the vehicle instead of issuing the necessary traffic citation ticket to the occupants of the vehicle.
The police officer’s sudden relief from his post without the benefit of due process earned the ire of the public because instead of punishing his men who drove his vehicle and passed through the city’s number coding zone and blatantly committed a grave violation, Lim judged the good officer over a petty matter. The job of an officer is also to educate the public and remind them of their responsibilities. Reminding the violators of their obligation to obey the law should have shamed these so-called officers and triggered a reflection on their part. Carrying a superior office is no excuse for flaunting the law. The number coding scheme is a self-regulating measure as the public can clearly see violators. It erodes public trust in government if they realize that those who are getting away with violations police officers themselves. What we want to ask is this: “Is making side comments which reminds officers of their obligations a violation of internal rules?” It would be good to bring this issue to the proper forum.
Tadeo’s case is a good reflection of what is happening to our society. Aside from it being a case of injustice, grave abuse of power, discrimination, and patronage, it is a wonder though if it is not machismo that underlies the decision of Lim. When persons in authority demand a different treatment from ordinary citizens, this is discrimination. When there is no due process, there is injustice and grave abuse of power. When there is a feeling of ‘nakakalalaki’, that is machismo. It may have been this feeling the violators felt when Tadeo reminded them of their obligation as citizens, an affront to their masculinity and position (Tadeo being a street-level enforcer while the violators are riders in a vehicle of a high authority). We can imagine muttered “nakakalalaki ka ah!” which usually comes with the understood “you will pay for this!”
Many people are also wondering why Lim’s vehicle could pass through the La Trinidad Municipal Police Station jurisdiction when a similar number coding scheme is being implemented in the said town. Calling the attention of the La Trinidad Police Office.
Several ranking police officials and politicians apprehended by Tadeo in various parts of the city are all praises for the dedication of this retiring police officer to his assigned duties and responsibilities. With the action of Lim now, how sure are we that if his driver was issued a citation ticket he would not have acted harsher?
We call on all traffic enforcers to further improve their implementation of traffic rules and regulations as a response to this arrogant treatment of a co-officer. Let us not be cowed into submitting to such abuse of authority. Our people are looking for models in their efforts to be law-abiding citizens and we do not tolerate the presence of arrogant abusive police officers who believe they are above the law.
As persons in uniform, it is but decency and goodwill for all involved parties to meet face-to-face and not allow arrogance and machismo to rule over such an affair.
Change must happen. The PNP command must show higher moral ground in this case by behaving as models of responsible citizens following rule of law. We Baguio citizens deserve as much.