TACLOBAN CITY- For a change, 24 police women took off their uniforms and donned in colorful and beautiful gowns and walked and waved like trained beauty queens.
They were part of the ‘sagalas’ or maidens in costumes during the Santacruzan organized by the regional headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP) under the leadership of Chief Supt. Gilberto Cruz.
PO1 Nova Jane Barbosa, the queen Helena, said she was “happy” that she was part of the religious event.
She said that she hope that by having their own Santacruzan, the public would also realize that they are not only after running criminals.
The PNP is leading the anti-illegal drug campaign being enforce by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte which is strongly criticized by some human rights and Church-based groups.
PO1 Pablo Yap, a policeman for three years, said that holding this event can help inspire the people that the police is not only focusing on drug war but also to other religious activities.
“This is one way to promote our core values, of being pro-country, pro-people, pro-environment, and pro-God,” he added.
Marjorie Nicer said that she was pleased to see policemen and women joining the Santacruzan which was held on Tuesday (May 29).
“I am excited. This is the first time I see policemen (and women) in this religious procession. This is usually done by the villages,” she said.
About 300 police personnel joined the procession of Santacruzan, which is part of the ‘Flores de Mayo’ celebration held during the entire month of May, starting from Fatima Church going to Robinsons’ Place in Marasbaras district, said Chief Inspector Ma. Bella Rentuaya, spokesperson of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the region.
Fr. Ramil Costibolo of the Archdiocese of Palo said that it’s normal and ordinary among Catholic faithful to have this kind of activity to show our devotion to Mother Mary and to celebrate our faith to Jesus Christ.
But for the police personnel to hold their own version of Santacruzan in the wake of its controversial campaign against proliferation of illegal drugs, Costibolo said that the event “only shows the reality that our police are just like us, normal people, (and) spiritual people.”
“Before they were assigned to their authority, they are also very religious and spiritual,” the priest said in an interview.
Costibolo said that he was “impressed” of this initiative from the police force.
“Very nice. They can show that they are ordinary people. First, before they were policemen, they also have families, they are brothers or sisters, mothers or fathers. They are ordinary people given with extraordinary task in our community. That is why we should understand them,” he added.
The priest, however, maintained that while he supported the drug campaign of the government, he is also opposing any brutal means in enforcing it.
“Illegal drug has to stop because it destroys our youth. The Church favors for its eradication. It is only opposing the method,” he added.
Fr. Joselito Borja, police chaplain, said that while they regularly hold this type of event inside their camp’s premises, this is their first time to do it outside the streets through the efforts of Chief Supt. Cruz.
“By bringing our Santa cruzan outside, people will know that there is God in our lives; that we are religious,” Borja said.
In an interview, Borja said that with their event they can help the young people to avoid drug addiction.
He also hinted that this may be staged annually considering some positive remarks they received from others.
“In my homily, I said this event is not only a mere parade of the beauty of our young women. Santa Cruzan, first and foremost, is religious.