By Brando Suarez , Esquiremag.com, June 2023
Watching videos circulating online of Awra Briguela’s arrest at the hands of the Makati City Police, I can’t help but be reminded of how morally unsalvageable the PNP is as an organization. These cis policemen, coddled by overlords with masculinity only as fragile as theirs, have consistently failed to serve and protect minority groups, particularly transpeople. It’s always been, after all, such a disgrace of an institution.
They treated her despicably. The Southern Police District arrested Briguela recently for physical injuries, alarm and scandal, direct assault, and disobedience to a person in authority. Mark Christian Ravana, one of the complainants here, told the police that the incident occurred during a party in the Poblacion district of Makati City. He told the authorities that the actress approached him and his posse, starting the confrontation.
Ravana and Briguela would find themselves in the street, where, as the guy says, she tore his shirt. Hence, the terrible ordeal. Her friends joined and everything went downhill from there. According to the police, the star was said to have been “verbally abusive” toward the officers, pushing one of them. This would lead to her eventual arrest.
Friends, including those who had been present, were quick to point out, however, that the PNP failed to consider key elements in the scuffle.
Content creator Zayla Nakajima, who was with Briguela at the time, said in a now-deleted post that Ravana’s group was the instigators. They were allegedly harassing some of the Ang Probinsyano star’s friends. One of Ravana’s people was even said to have attempted to touch one of them. That was when Briguela confronted the man.
Of course, no surprise here. The PNP chose to favor the cis male’s side of the story, instead of exercising some prudence. What’s even more upsetting is the fact that Briguela was tragically handcuffed and arrested like a warty pig. That’s just excessive use of force. Is this what defending women should get you? The men from Ravana’s camp, on the other hand, get all the benefit of the doubt, and left controlling the narrative. Briguela was the only person charged here. And yes, she’s still in jail as of this writing.
There’s something twisted about this brand of transmisogyny. And it’s all the more appalling when it is those in authority who exercise it. Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Habijan summed it up perfectly in a tweet. “People, usually men, accuse trans women of being threats to cis women. Yet, when trans women protect their cis women sisters from harassers (who are men), trans women end up getting all the punches and blows.”
It’s funny, too, how predictable that the police would instead protect predators than victims, men over transwomen (boys will be boys until the end, aye?). The prejudice is apparent everywhere, really. It might be because they’ve been desensitized to reports of alleged abuses and cases of misconduct within their ranks over the years. Part of it may also be the dangerous precedent the Jennifer Laude case had set when judges freed Joseph Scott Pemberton. But of all things, all these forms of aggression and violence stem from the fact that men in this country don’t care about transpeople.
I know it’s a bold thing to say. But really, prove me wrong. We love them as our “performers” on television and film, reducing them to products of entertainment; while still dehumanizing and even fetishizing them without creating safe spaces for them to exist freely. Rare are the rights we’ve conceded to the trans community, frankly. The SOGIESC Equality Law is still, unfortunately, only a dream.
There have been 41 transgender people killed in the Philippines between 2008 and 2016 (the real death toll is disputed as this has been an underreported topic), according to the Trans Murder Monitoring Project of Transgender Europe. This is the highest rate in Southeast Asia. Another study from the Philippine Journal of Psychology in 2014 concluded that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Filipinos were twice as likely to contemplate suicide as heteros.
Hell, most people still deadname our trans friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Straight men, in particular, just love transwomen, until they need to actually respect them as people, not just as some kinks they hide from their wives. They love imposing their straightness on transpeople. They make transwomen the butt of the joke, the punchline at the party where transphobes, homophobes, and misogynists waggle their wieners in the air. The mockery. The horror. “They’re not real women.” You can just hear it. Such a shame.
In the Makati City police’s case, this also isn’t the first time they’ve persecuted transwomen by crossing ethical and legal boundaries. We may recall reports of a sketchy operation back in 2020 by the name of “Oplan X-Men.” Dozens of more operations like this happen a lot more than we’d like to believe.
At the time, the Makati City police were alleged to have profiled transwomen. Authorities reportedly invited individuals to their headquarters, which was, in itself, a violation of their rights, which bleeds into what could be warrantless arrests. The police said that they did so to save them from “exploitation and human trafficking.”
In times like these, who are transwomen supposed to go to for help then? Lawmakers are duds. Toxic men prevail almost always. The token Pride slogans from brands and companies can only do so much (Pride should always be a protest anyway). Nobody turns to the police anymore for justice. And for good reason. Most cops just aren’t interested in it.
Yeah, this is a “Happy Pride Month” from the PNP, I suppose.#