Nalzaro: Probe team were just doing their job

Bobby Nalzaro

IF WE will just watch the viral video about an orange vendor who was accosted by members of the Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification and Enhancement (Probe) Team, we can really sympathize with the poor vendor. He was accosted and his goods were confiscated by those “arrogant” Probe personnel. But we will not immediately cast judgment on the alleged rudeness of the Probe personnel by just watching the short video clip. We don’t know the real story.

We don’t know what triggered the commotion and the encounter. What we saw was just based on what was captured in the video taken by a concerned netizen. Was there an earlier confrontation or a heated argument between the vendor and the Probe personnel? Did the Probe team approach the vendor nicely or were they already rude from the beginning? We can not answer this by just watching the video.

What about if the version of the Probe personnel was true that the fruit vendor was very arrogant and hard-headed? Can we blame them if that was their actuation? The Probe personnel claimed that they called the vendor’s attention several times not to display his goods in the area because he was disturbing the sidewalk users. But he ignored their warning. In fact, that vendor was already reportedly arrested several times by the same Probe personnel in another area. If you are the concerned Probe personnel tasked to maintain order in our sidewalks and here comes a hard-headed frequent violator whose attention you called several times, but just ignored your warnings, what will you do? You just laugh at him?

If you are in the shoes of the Probe team and you already repeatedly warned the vendor, and yet he chooses to ignore you, will your blood pressure not shoot up? The tendency is you will use your power based on what is assigned to you to discipline him. And in the process of disciplining him, you hurt him and violated his rights. Would you be held liable? No. The Probe personnel were just doing their job and were just performing their duties and functions.

Why don’t Probe personnel adopt a maximum tolerance? Maximum tolerance is easier said than done. If you are confronted with the real situation and when emotions run high and you lose your temper, maximum tolerance can be discarded sometimes. That’s a human instinct. Maximum tolerance means the highest degree of restraint. It is being patient and understanding and accepting anything different. But if you are being antagonized, can you still adopt maximum tolerance?

During rallies and demonstrations, police and military civil disturbance units usually adopt maximum tolerance. But oftentimes because of the situation, they will also lose their temper and patience because they are being provoked and antagonized by the rallyists and that is why commotions ensued that would result in physical violence. That was the same situation.

Rachel Arce, Probe chief, need not apologize for her men. They were just doing the right thing and they were just following orders from her. Dismissing or terminating them from service is too harsh a penalty for they did not do illegal and immoral acts. Arce is, likewise, following orders from Mayor Edgardo Labella whose policy is to implement order in the city’s streets. Maintaining order and cleanliness in the city’s streets is in compliance with the directive from Malacañang to free our streets from ambulant vendors.

But now that Mayor Labella has ordered that no stalls and goods should be confiscated, then the Probe team has to follow that order. What happened should serve as a lesson, but should not discourage them from performing their job. This time they should adhere to the order of the mayor, but continue to strictly enforce the law. Walang personalan, trabaho lang. Gitahasan ug gisuwelduhan sila para anang trabahoa, busa kinahanglan motrabaho sila.