Tyrone del Rosario of the high school class of 1994 was not my student. Around the time that he graduated, I was teaching only one or two sections and had gone more and more into administrative work.
He was, however, in my football team. When I was with my teams – I loved to tell my players often enough – I was every bit as coach a teacher as the one with the chalk and eraser. In a manner of speaking, therefore, Tyrone my player was also, in effect, my student.
He was a diminutive little imp of a player. He made up for his lack of stature, however, by being brave and determined, one of those tireless little workers who hated being beaten and fought hard for the cause.
Even at a young age, Tyrone had one burning ambition – to serve the community as well as the country by becoming a policeman. That was why, straight from high school, he enrolled at the University of Manila in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in Criminology.
Late in 2001, with his degree finally earned, he headed off to Camp Nakar in Lucena to join fellow recruits from around the country in undergoing the Philippine National Police’s Public Safety Basic Recruit Course. He graduated six months later with the rank of Police Officer II.
In 2003, Tyrone went through the PNP’s Special Counter-Insurgency Unit Training or SCOUT. The training was a rigid 45-day course which equipped selected policemen with skills that they would need in internal security or counter-insurgency assignments.
Recently, Tyrone was promoted to the rank of Captain and given a new assignment in Palawan. Previously, he had been assigned to the largely agrarian municipalities of Abra de Ilog and Sablayan in his home province of Occidental Mindoro. Both assignments were for counter-insurgency operations.
It is a dangerous life, Tyrone admits; and probably this aspect of being a policeman is seldom shown to the public by the media.
“While conducting road security one day,” he narrates, “we were ambushed. It was my baptism of fire. Bullets were raining all over us and we could not tell where they were coming from.” It is an aspect of the life of a policeman that men in uniform have to live with but is seldom brought to the attention of the public.
He continues, “Then, training just took over. After a few minutes, having taken cover we were returning fire, manoeuvring and repelling the enemies. Were it not for our training, we wouldn’t have survived the ambush.”
Tyrone is married to the former Shali Mae Piedad and has two children. Terence Jacob is six years old while Tracey Samantha is four.
There is one visit that every policeman’s wife dreads will ever come – that of a senior officer to tell her that she has become a widow.
Suffice it to say that it is a bit of an understatement to say that being a policeman is a strange way to make a living.
“The pay and benefits are good,” Tyrone says. On the downside, it is a life not unlike Russian roulette. He says, “You just never know when you will be hit by a bullet.”
While in other careers, acts of heroism are rare and celebrated when they occur, with policemen it is an expectation and a way of life. He has lost count of the number of times when he and fellow policemen had been called to provide covering fire so that others could gain advantageous positions over outlaws.
“It’s a normal part of operations,” Tyrone says, “but for me those are acts of courage and heroism. Policemen will take heavy fire so that others may live.”
Does he think the media’s frequent portrayal of the PNP is accurate? “The reports are exaggerated,” he retorts. “Every organization has its bad tomatoes. There are many good cops. The public just doesn’t hear enough about them.”
“Hopefully, that we can defend the public anytime and anywhere.” After a thought, he adds, “Also, that one day the public will take comfort in the knowledge that when they call, we will be there.”
Brave words, indeed; although even Tyrone knows that life with the PNP is never quite as ideal as he would like it to be. Asked what government needs to do if it is serious about law enforcement, Tyrone says, “Upgrade equipment. We do our best with what we have; but we can do so much better also with better equipment.”
The President’s promises in the recent state-of-the-nation address ought to be music to Tyrone’s ears; although when the promised upgrades will materialize is something for government – and clairvoyants – to say. With government, sometimes you just never know.
He knows that the wrongdoings of certain elements within the PNP sometimes make the public wary of policemen like him. Although it will probably take time, Tyrone would like nothing more than for the public to know that he and others like him are, rather than being seen as the enemy, instead truly on its side.
“It’s a worn-out cliché,” Tyrone says, “but we are really here to serve and protect. Even if we have go give up our own lives…”
Qualification for PNP Personnel
New PNP Standard Qualifications for Appointees and Promotees
113 police officers undergo PNP Scout Training
Timi Alcala-Stoop: the Dreamer, the Writer
Jerome Gotango: Wanted Law; Got IT