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Impound lots

How do you know you are approaching a police station or outpost in the Philippines?

You know you are near a police outpost when you start seeing impounded vehicles, police vehicles and other equipment occupying the public property such as roads and sidewalks beside it.

This is because the property a police outpost stands on is usually tiny, but its operation requires a lot of space, and the people who run it probably think that because they provide a “public service” they are entitled to squatting on public property. That is why the parking and impound lots, as well as storage for bulky items, is being done by most well-meaning cops on the roads and sidewalks beside their office space. If you come to think of it, those squatting and parking activities are patently illegal, but then again, what are we gonna do, Call the cops on them?

We see this phenomenon in almost all police outposts, which begs the question: Why can’t the police have a proper impound lot? 

Surely it cannot be because our government is too poor to get them one. After all we have a government that’s literally throwing money at contractors, having them break up perfectly usable roads just to build new ones. We have public officials swimming in totally unnecessary confidential funds. We can afford to not collect hundreds of billions worth in taxes. Our officials have even just conveniently forgotten about that multi-billion Pharmally scandal where a few very well-connected people took advantage of the pain and suffering of the pandemic to become very rich at our expense. 

If there is anything the past few years have taught me, it is that our government has the money, it just doesn’t have the right spending priorities.

So, if our government is filthy rich, are our police stations and outposts built on tiny plots of land because our officials are not asking for improvements? This is hard to believe considering that the police in the Philippines has been the spoiled brat of the previous government. They’ve been getting salary increases, newer and more powerful firearms, new vehicles, loads of camouflage gear for use in urban environments, and even the power to be judge, jury and executioner. And yet, despite the overflowing love and attention from our police and military obsessed leaders, they cannot get themselves a proper impound lot so they don’t have to squat on public roads and sidewalks? That’s bonkers.

So, if there is the money and the police has been the government’s spoiled offspring, why are they still parking their stuff on our roads and taking up sidewalk space? Is it because they know they can just squat anywhere they please and nobody will complain? It’s weird how that makes them so considerate of the government funds needed for impound lots or better police outposts, yet at the same time so inconsiderate towards the rest of us who are deprived of the use of public property.

If you come to think of it, a police station that uses the road as a parking and impound lot should be fined and penalized for illegal parking. We see this everywhere there is a police outpost, with dilapidated cars strewn about like a roadside junk shop, beside their patrol vehicles that are also illegally parked if we must be strict about how it should be illegal to occupy public property without an ordinance from the city council.

We all know that illegal parking is everywhere in this country where people without garages are the biggest market for car distributorships. We already know that the cops and barangay officials do nothing about that particular brand of urban squatting, but the sting is particularly harsh when I see the cops do it like it’s the most natural thing in the world. The sense of entitlement of these illegal parkers is already through the roof as it is and that feeling of despair that nothing will ever be done about it is only heightened when we see that cops are also serial offenders as well.

The squatter impound lot is just a symptom of the apathy and sense of entitlement of the people who are supposed uphold and enforce our laws. We cannot really expect too much from them if they are unaware of the laws and see themselves as exempt. Maybe if it is pointed out to them and an effort is exerted to make things right, we could see an improvement in the way they do their job, which by all rights should be one of the noblest forms of public service.*

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November 2022
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