I had never been to a police station in the Philippines (Touch wood) and I thank god for keeping me clear of those lovely gentlemen whose responsibility is to guard and protect us. However, I landed up having to go there for no fault of mine. A colleague of mine from work called me frantically to help her out with an issue at about 4 in the morning. Her room-mate and friend was apparently in jail! Both of them are Austrians and haven't been in the country for more than 2 weeks. So she had no clue what to do and I couldn't decline to help a "damsel in distress"!
I diligently carry my PRESS ID (I work with Management Systems Asia - An Asian business magazine http://ms-asia.org/
and so of course that makes me part of the PRESS) not really knowing what I would do with it at a Police station. I go along with her to the station which took me almost an hour to find and see that this guy has been into a brawl with a few of the bouncers at Tabu. They brought him to the station and filed charges against the guy. When I asked the bouncers (security guards) to tell me what happened - The guy tells me that this Austrian guy was fooling around with the girls at the bar and when he was questioned he hit the bouncer. The security guy also showed me his jeans which were torn and said that it tore because he was kicked there!
When I asked my colleague more about the guy (let's call him Tony for now), she said that the story was highly unlikely because Tony was gay and moreover he was not a violent person and couldn't really harm a fly! Anyway, it didn't really make sense to me to try to fight it out.
I however did make it very clear to the cops and the bouncers that I was a member of the PRESS and they couldn't get away with trying to scare me with all of their big talk. I saw that this stand of mine did wonders to quicken things. I understood that the cops and these two bouncers were working together to try to extort as money as they could from us. I didn't want to have a long and fruitless argument with those guys and that too so early in the morning. I just wanted to finish the issue and get home to my cozy bed! We landed up paying about 2000 pesos to that guy to get his jeans replaced and also for his "medical check-up"!
A funny thing that happened to me during this whole incident was that the cop was being over friendly to me once he knew I was with the PRESS and he even asked me for my business card so that we could stay in touch! Most of the cops there at the station asked for my number and so did the security guards. So much for being a part of the media.
So that was my first experience of being to a police station here in Manila and as I thought of the experience much later, I do realize that apart from the numerous other things that I have learnt from AIM, I have learnt to fine tune my negotiation skills as I feel I did a pretty good job of sorting things out at the Police Station. Well, that was most of my "One night (Ok... Just a few hours) at the Police Station"