A Tanod I Wouldn’t Mess With
The Filipino equivalent of the neighborhood watch is a barangay tanod, sort of a citizen deputy chosen by his neighborhood to patrol the streets and aid in routine law enforcement. So if someone gets drunk and disorderly at a fiesta, typically the tanods are the first to intervene.
The tanods I have seen have had light rattan sticks. I’ve seen them pedaling around on bikes, or one doing security when President Macapagal-Arroyo visited Cebu City. I’m reminded of the times I’ve been someplace and “security” has been some decrepit rent-a-cop, and I’ve thought, “God help us if you’re all that’s standing between me and violent death.”
But Guro Pana of Atienza Eskrima tells of seeing tanods, especially in the rougher neighborhoods, carry heavy planks, steel pipes, and baseball bats.
“ When I was a kid, I recall my dad driving through Manila in a pretty bad area and I saw the tanods from the car window pretty close to us. They walked around town and their weapons were very large: one had a long steel pipe, the other had a large wooden club, and the other had a baseball bat. I read your blog about the tanods carrying rattan sticks in the PI….this is more of a recent phenomenon due to the fact that SPORT Arnis is getting more prominent in the PI. Personally, I think these tanods should be carrying a much larger and heavier fighting stick. However, from what I know, large clubs are more common on the streets in the PI.”
My teacher, GM Maranga, works nights as a tanod, patrolling his barangay, which draws drug users from all over the city. The position used to be strictly volunteer, but now he receives modest pay. He carries a short stick, but I wouldn’t mess with him. My impression is that very few of the tanods I see have any sort of training at all, but I can tell you that GM Maranga hits very hard. Once at lessons he told me that he and his fellow tanods had taken a screwdriver off of a kid the night before.
The question is, should the tanod serve as a model for American law enforcement? (Furthermore, I would say that the bulk of street-level law enforcement in the Philippines comes from tanods and private security, such as the armed guards at MacDonald’s. Many Filipino policemen don’t have cars or radios, so they spend most of their time at the station.)
We’ve seen how Americans have been the last line of defense in the underwear bomber’s case. What if law enforcement were centered at the neighborhood level? Too many neighborhoods suffer from problems with gangs, drugs, robberies, vandalism, and so on, and feel frustrated that law enforcement seems to have different priorities.
Decades of “just give them your wallet,” “don’t resist,” “leave law enforcement to the professionals,” etc., resulted in a more passive, victimized society, and culminated in disaster on September 11th, when it finally dawned on passengers of flight 97 that surrendering wasn’t good enough, and they had to act for themselves. Maybe it’s it’s time that we as citizens become in one guy’s memorable words, “Not a herd, but a pack.”