Riot cop Joselito Sevilla's emotional display on the front lines with President Benigno Aquino protesters helps promote peace across the country.
A riot cop sent to block protesters in the Philippines with his shield and baton has instead become a symbol of humanity after a photojournalist captured him in two vulnerable moments — flashing a peace sign and crying as protesters tried to console him.
Dubbed the “crying cop" by photojournalist Rem Zamora, the officer was among dozens deployed in Quezon City Monday morning to break up a protest against President Benigno Aquino and his anti-poor policy.
Rocks were thrown at police, who in turn charged at activists. Among the chaos was “one policeman who flashed a peace sign to the protesters, asking them to remain calm," Zamora reported for ABS-CBNNews.com. “He urged activists to hold a dialogue instead of resorting to violence.”
One protester approached the officer, who was identified as Joselito Sevilla, demanding to know why police were using force.
"I am a policeman, I’m just doing my job," he said.
He then started crying, even sobbing, as he stood his ground, Zamora reported.
Zamora himself approached Sevilla, who said it was his first riot duty.
Why had he cried, Zamora asked. “Because of hunger and no sleep,” Sevilla said. "We have no rest and we have been stationed here for two days already and now it's getting violent."
Sevilla never struck a protester and several even consoled him. Two hugged him, one of them a woman who tried to give him a handkerchief to wipe his tears.
"Seconds after, other policemen noticed what was happening and they snatched Sevilla from the front lines," Zamora wrote. "He was gone."
For Zamora, Sevilla provided a lesson that "we can still do our job, standing ground, but still being peaceful and not hurting another human being; that even two opposing groups can still show compassion to each other."
Sevilla’s actions in turn triggered an outpouring of support across the Philippines.
One Filipino blogger, after acknowledging that police were sometimes provoked to strike back, said he was now "praising this cop who stood firmly there, shield at hand and performing his duty.
On Zamora’s own blog, dozens of people left messages.
"I wish everyone involved in events like this would be mindful that the person on the other side of the fence is also a struggling Filipino, having the same difficulties and concerns," posted one person.
"Tears and pain remind us of our humanity," posted another reader. "And that is the real meaning of PROGRESS!"
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