A picture of a policeman who broke down in tears while barricading activists outside the Batasan Complex during President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address on July 22 has become an Internet sensation.
ABS-CBNNews.com reports that the cop, who was identified as Private Joselito Sevilla from the Marikina Police Unit, had been appealing for a peaceful dialogue between the protesters and the police when a violent clash between the two groups suddenly erupted on one side of the barricade. It was during the chaos that a Dutch activist named Thomas van Beersum was photographed by ABS-CBNNews.com photographer Rem Zamora angrily berating Sevilla.
“Why are you doing this to us? Why are you hurting us?!” van Beersum was reported to have said.
Sevilla, however, stood his ground, saying that he was simply following his superiors’ command to maintain peace and order.
“I am a policeman, I’m just doing my job,” he had answered van Beersum before he started crying.
When Zamora asked Sevilla for the reason behind his tears, the policeman replied, “Sa gutom at pagod. Walang tulog. Walang pahinga. Dalawang araw na kami naka-deploy dito. Tapos ganito, nagkakagulo (Because of hunger and fatigue. I lack sleep and rest. We’ve been deployed here for two days, and we have to deal with the chaos.).”
Still, Sevilla did not join the other policemen in hurting the activists even if the protests were becoming increasingly violent. It was then that some protesters saw him and started comforting and embracing him. When this was noticed by other policemen, Sevilla was then moved away from the front lines.
Several people have since praised the cop for his actions, including van Beersum, who was injured during the protests.
“Unlike the other police at the protest, you did not act violently like your mates and you did not attack us. You did what you thought was right. You were confronted with the repressive character of the police and did not follow the orders of your superiors. This is a noble act,” van Beersum reportedly wrote.
(Screencap via The ABS-CBN News YouTube.com)