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A tanod in the Philippines is the equivalent of, oh, a deputy here. They handle minor law enforcement issues, direct traffic, write tickets. Like that. Saturday night, tanods in the village of Pitalo responded to a report of men playing hantak, described as “an illegal coin game.” It was obviously a slow night because they sent four tanods to break up the equivalent of guys playing craps on the corner . . .

Tanods aren’t usually armed. But the chief tanod, Cresente Generale, had his .45 with him. As Generale and Allan Ladica approached the men playing the game, Generale decided to get their attention by firing five shots into the ground. One of the bullets ricocheted, struck Ladica and killed him.

Pitalo Captain Jessielito Pelimer said he didn’t know Generale even owned a gun. He’d like to ask him why he felt it necessary to fire into the ground, but Generale took off after the shooting and hasn’t been seen since.

There’s never a good reason to fire a gun if you don’t have to. It looks like Generale decided to go all Nuke Laloosh and announce his presence with authority. Using a gun as the equivalent of a bullhorn is, well, irresponsible and could escalate an otherwise routine situation.

There’s no string on a bullet. Once the trigger’s pulled, you can never be completely sure where it will ultimately end up. As Generale (and Ladica) found out, bullets can deflect off of rocks, skip on water or overpenetrate. Better to keep the heater in the holster until it’s absolutely necessary.

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  1. You know how the old saying goes: “Tanod today, no tanod tomorrow.” And: “Carpe Tanod.”


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