Expat tourism Police in Cebu, Philippines

With the Philippines trying to improve its tourism industry as well as a growing Expat community which have their own issues as well I believe an introduction of police volunteer liaison’s could make everyone’s life easier. Expats generally don’t trust the police due to many instances of bribe taking as well as accusations of false arrest and imprisonment. At the same time tourists arriving and falling foul of laws some they are unaware of could find the service very beneficial the same as the PNP force (Philippines National Police). A similar system exists in parts of Thailand as well as someone telling me it exists in another part of the Philippines but often its local Police trained to deal with foreign nationals and from experiences people have been having with the Embassy’s here assuming the embassy is there to help nationals when in essence embassy’s exist primarily for trade and don’t like having their time wasted on trivial local matters. I also think the mix of Expat professionals here mixing and assisting the PNP could have a positive affect on relations between the police and foreign nationals. At the same time making things easier for the PNP to deal with and reduce the risk of situations being inflamed by disorientated Foreigners often intoxicated.

The other reason I think this is important as closing the gap between foreign and local relations not only with the police but many other establishments and businesses can only help improve trade as well as help reduce corruption. Several of the things I have witnessed go wrong in Cebu involved people thinking they have “rights” forgetting or not understand the laws are different here and often diplomacy is the better judge rather than making a bold statement from inside a jail cell. Many minor crimes can be resolved without the need of arrest and this is one of the main roles I could see the liaison dealing with as people often think bail when it could involve imprisonment at least until the case is heard. Will or can it happen? I think this is something that needs to involve business groups of Cebu as well as the PNP and local government but would benefit everyone.

6 comments for “Expat tourism Police in Cebu, Philippines

  1. February 21, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Being in the tourism industry myself.. I have had experience with tourism police in both Cebu City and here in Mactan Island.. These are the only two places I know for sure have special tourist police.. I am sure they are others.. I find that they really are a good thing.. They seem to want to help the tourist and also keep a lot of the small petty things out of the main police stations.. A better enviorment for tourist to be in and they seem to be concerned in the truth and also realize the threats and things that happen to tourist here..

    Recently I had a experience where was tried to be robbed.. Unfortunatly, the perpatrators did not fair too well.. I found the police, while protecting the rights of the accused, seemed to know what was really happening.. ( No matter what the other said.).. Like Matt said, instead of really getting upset and being the loud foreigner.. I could see that they was just entertaining the suspects, and they really knew the complete story.. The suspects ended up going outside and never returning to complete the interrogation ( realizing they was not going to extort any money, and that they was actually going to get in trouble.) Upon leaving, the investigating officer said, ” sorry, I knowed the story they was telling was all lies, but I also have to listen to their side.”. So sometimes, even when you might think they are against you… They are really not..

    P.S. Spell Check does not work here.. So no comments please.. ha ha ha

  2. Steve
    March 9, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I am sorry it has taken me this long to comment on this but I must disagree with you on this one Matt! Having observed the behaviours of rich foreigners including and especially my fellow Australians I believe they deserve whatever treatment they receive. We often expect visitors to our shores to find out and observe our laws whether they agree with it or not. Often the behaviour of our drunken footballers would not be tolerated even at home. Just because the host countries are poorer we expect them to turn a blind eye to our bad behaviour. I often hear stories of corruption in foreign countries followed in the next breath by how the person paid to get a favourable outcome to their request. Even at the airports we can foreigners jump queues and expect preferential treatment merely because they are “puti” or “foreigner”. If we disagree with the corruption taking place we can either not take part in it or join in the game! If we choose the latter we should not complain. Another alternative is for us to leave – nobody forced us to be there – accept the society warts and all. But by all means seek to improve it.
    By no means expect preferential treatment because we deem ourselves to have come from a “superior” society.
    Australia is enjoying an influx of tourists from the Asian region but I hear no voice suggesting that there should be a special police force to deal with their antics. This tells me that either we expect visitors to our shores to behave according to our laws or that the visitors don’t behave like drunken louts.
    I would agree with your suggestion if these vigilantes (that is what they effectively are) will act in an unbiased way and discipline their kind when they are wrong. But that is expecting too much! Never have I heard diplomats admit their countrymen are at fault! It is always the fault of the host country and their corrupt officials or stupid laws.
    These “visitors” are often nothing more than birds of transit, flying in taking advantage of the the situation then flying out leaving the locals to clean up after them. Or they are mercenaries only there for their benefit and will bolt at the slightest hint of danger.
    I sometimes feel that countries like the Philippines, while chasing the foreign dollar has been too accommodating to the whims and fancies of these “visitors”. If they choose to get uncontrollably drunk they should be prepared to face the consequences – its called personal responsibility.
    By all means come visit the country, share and enjoy the beautiful culture and hospitality but at the same time respect and accept it – warts and all.

    Perhaps we should expose the fact that the consequences can be drastic for any breach of the law – knowingly or otherwise. We might then attract a better type of visitor to the country rather than the dregs that come for the wrong reasons and only contribute to the moral and political corruption.

    • Tropicalpenpals
      March 9, 2011 at 12:37 pm

      Thing with this is mediation more than anything though. Most expats are not aware of many of the local laws which can be misunderstood or infact easily breached because of lack of knowledge. At the same time the Philippines suffers with pickpockets, date rape drug use for robberies leaving people disorientated as well as 101 other things that could leave foreigners unwittingly knowing what to do. The drunk scenario was just a small part of what they’re role in society would be as one of the biggest issues is people travel alone here in the majority which means if they do become unstuck things could go horribly wrong rather rapidly. In the UK for example there are drunk wagons where the Police are dumping people off it generally goes if you know where you live you can go home if you don’t you get a cell. Not based on an arrest but simply to take them off the street for their own safety.

      A few weeks ago I knew of 4 robberies in one week and not one of the people were involved were drunk or even in areas they shouldn’t normally be. They are regulars here and 2 of the instances resulted in broken bones and easily have been more serious. The consulates should deal with a lot of this stuff I agree at the same time what does the websites say?? simply don’t come here.. zipp that’s all the info they are giving. What about contact numbers for emergencies? on call lawyers? don’t see it anywhere at airports or any other places except on the buildings if you know where they are.

      Now I agree a lot of people deserve what they get at the same time there are a lot that don’t and don’t know how about getting things sorted. Not talking corruption here things like an apology often goes a long way when they are out of line. At the same time I have come across situations where people expected the Police to intervene only to see them back off because the person that has caused the dispute is a son of a mayor and the Police were quick to turn a blind eye even though an unprovoked attack of 5 on 1 had happened. So anti corruption would say should stand your ground at the same time the person involved would run the risk of being killed.. defusing the situation would be more important before it got worse. This also happened to a bar owner on Mactan who rejected a mayors son for being drunk but he didn’t know who he was, the bar is now sold and the owner left the country this is a lawless country and some stability and intervention would prevent many things especially if its very visual, public and supported nationwide.

      • Steve
        March 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm

        Matt, I commend you on your concern and yes I do acknowledge the need for some sort of support. However I feel that unless it is well controlled the squad can end up to be a tool of unethical foreigners – out to protect their own interests! And I know some of the local authorities can be corrupt. But nothing is as effective as international exposure. I feel that if more sites like yours can highlight the potential dangers and provide good advice then the visitor will be better aware. The locals will also become aware of the importance of good publicity. I think that once foreigners try to bring “stability and intervention” they become mercenaries – and the potential for bigger problems like the “us and them” syndrome arises..

        • Tropicalpenpals
          March 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm

          Depends how its handled though that would be the fine line.. ideally they would have no legal powers but simply the Police would like them there to offload some of the smaller issues at the same time like you say information is the way forward problem is the Philippines does seem to get more than its fair share of people who can’t look after themselves.

          Will try and get some time with PNP to get a list of things that people may find useful to know. As I know someone recently complained he got stopped for not wearing a motorcycle helmet yet the family in front had 3 kids and 2 adults on a bike and didn’t. Only thing I can say is they were all breaking the law at the same time being the foreigner your going to be the one likely stopped. Play within the law things are less likely to happen and to be honest looking over things from the last 10 years the Philippines has slowly improved. Ive never had PNP try to act corrupt in fact I have several as friends, immigration on the other hand is a completely different story anyone above desk clerk seems to want to try it on for a few extra pesos.

          • swarfy
            March 9, 2011 at 9:38 pm

            Personally i thing policing should be done by the police, once civilians are handed any sort of authority here they immediately abuse it to their own ends. We see it all the time with Barangay Tanod who merely side with the nearest relative or class mate from elementary school. It would just be another avenue to bum drinks and cigarettes with an implied nod that if you look after us we will help you, first conflict with a local and they disappear. Too many expats carry tel # about of people of substance who will be there to help in times of crisis, if that`s how they want to live here good on them, it`s a bit dodgy and when real bad stuff happens they will be dropped like a hot potato.
            Also it would just perpetuate the myth that we are given preferential treatment if WE had our own police, thus causing jealousy and more resentment, just try to keep out of trouble is my advice!