To watch is to catch

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By Myke U. Obenieta

So to speak

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Blink, and all that’s left to see is often a blank wall. Dead ends are inescapable unless we can find ways to stop being shortsighted.

Clarity, of course, is anything but orderly as long as our suspicions loom with a view of our uncertainty up to the slippery slope of our insecurities. See how, stealthy does it, strategic cameras have spanned as well as swiveled around the gap between villainy and its victims.

With cutting-edge technology ramping up the radar of law enforcement in the West, specifically in the United States, zoom-and-click installations at various locations—whether inside business establishments or out there in the traffic—have rendered it convenient for cops to track suspects on the move. From runaway thieves and happy-go-lucky drivers to the infamous Boston bombers, deviance has no mightier device to contend with than the modern system of surveillance.


“With the plethora of the digital capabilities, images are…becoming a game changer,” a detective revealed in one report. The fine-tuning of facial recognition software, among other inventions, has not only raised the stakes but also sharpened the vantage points for bracing against the whole nine yards of transgression, especially in this age of terrorism.

Threats remain tricky, however, where there’s a gray zone of discomfort that damns the clear-cut delineation of good and evil. When public perception cast a long shadow of doubt over our agents of peace and order, even the objective view of the camera can be seen no less explosive than a lightning rod.

Here in the heart of Cebu, for instance, the city mayor has been reported as good as thundering out his directive for “the removal of unidentified CCTV cameras installed in public places if their owners don’t come forward.” Indeed, whoever hoisted those gizmos must be grim-eyed on gathering incriminating evidence on the objects of their disaffection.

Those cameras, according to a city councilor, are likely “being used to monitor the activities of police and other law enforcement agencies.”

Authorities, as long as misgivings out of their misappropriation of power persist, run the risk of losing their common touch with the community. Watch out, be wary. Thus the sneaky camera-ready chroniclers may as well have spat out snide remarks for whom public trust dangles as precarious as a pin or badge crusted with rust.

Ironing out the kinks in the uniforms of our policemen is a sweat-in-the-armpit undertaking while there’s nothing more frequent up in the air than the dirty finger of suspicions. Indeed, it’s no stretch of the imagination to see it raised, as meddlesome as a photobomb, at the periphery of their public image.

While it bodes well for the sanity of the community to believe or dream that honest-to-goodness work were the hallmarks of law enforcement, such naïve view is easily interrupted by the irrepressible streak of bad press.

While a few good men in the service could only hover at the edges of public consciousness, a low profile would be something of an aberration about some of their colleagues for whom presumption of innocence entails a surrealist’s mind-bending savvy. Wish them well, or wince again regarding this report about four Highway Patrol Group (HPG) 7 officers who have been tagged as suspects in the killing of a prominent lawyer and his two aides.

And so, the way things are, it’s highly likely that the camera could catch us squinting or with blank stare instead of being starry-eyed at the authorities who often get smaller the more we prefer to see far.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 27, 2014.


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