Cabaero: That prank

Nini Cabaero
·2 min read

HIDDEN camera and reality prank shows on television have entertaining qualities that make them worth watching to pass the time.

This is the reason these videos are played in waiting rooms at doctors’ clinics or in hospital admission rooms while standing by for your number to be called. They also show these videos in banks and ticketing offices for the same reason. To help you pass the time.

While they can be entertaining and funny, there are episodes that make you worry, especially those that show the person being pranked almost suffering from a heart attack. Some of the jokes can be dangerous to those with an anxiety disorder or who have an excitable heart.

But then the shows’ producers must have chosen their “victims” well and they must have some sort of insurance or a backup plan in case someone has to be rushed to the hospital. And there’s also video editing during the show’s production where only the exciting parts are shown and viewers are spared the preliminary arrangements.

It is different when police personnel and other law enforcers do the prank. When police personnel armed with an “arrest warrant” want to bring you to the police car, the thought that you’re on candid camera is farthest from your mind. You get scared.

That was what happened when personnel of the Cebu City Police Office and the Philippine Air Force went on “arrestoguinaldo” last week to “arrest” people and bring them to the police car to hand them – a Christmas gift. Of course, those targeted were relieved after learning it was all a joke. But was it funny?

Comments posted on Facebook about the “arrestoguinaldo” practice showed the law enforcers widely criticized for playing a “bad joke” on the public. One comment on the SunStar Cebu post on Facebook said, “Ngano nag issue sila og fake warrant of arrest, omg, sorry I know the intentions are good, but how they did it is wrong. I wonder what happened to those people who were killed during tokhang days, nanlaban, was it a prank too?” Another said that if law enforcers want to share their blessings, they could simply approach the needy with their gifts.

PNP Chief Debold Sinas said Thursday he will order a stop to the practice. He said, “Wala naman ‘yun sa regular directive namin. Baka initiative lang po ng mga lower units natin. Titingnan ko po kung ano ang nangyari.” If it causes anxiety to the public, he said he will direct the police to stop the practice.

If we are to base it on the reaction of the Cebuano public, then the practice should be stopped. The joke is not funny and it places law enforcers in a bad light where they are perceived to be manufacturing arrest warrants to indiscriminately scare members of the public. Merry Christmas?