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A Plea From A Single Mom Police Officer: 'Please Stay Home So I Can See My Son Again'
PHOTO BY courtesy of Ren Palma
  • When the community quarantine was first announced by President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, March 12, 2020, Renelie “Ren” Palma, 33, a Police Staff Sergeant assigned to the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), knew that she would be called to the frontlines. As a single mom, her first thought was to keep her 4-year-old son, Raine, safe from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and so she quickly took him to her parents, who lived outside of Metro Manila.

    “It was heartbreaking,” Ren tells SmartParenting.com.ph. “Whenever I needed to go to work, I would just tell him that I need to rescue babies from bad guys like the Paw Patrol cartoon he used to watch. I guarantee I’d come home soon. But this time, it’s different because I know I will be away for at least one month.”

    For now, she and her son communicate through calls. As a mom, Ren makes sure that her son understands how to curb the spread of COVID-19. “Whenever I call him, he’ll ask me to go back and fetch him. I’ll say, ‘I tried but the virus went in the way and it’s too strong.’ So he needs to stay home and wash his hands because the virus smells ‘dirty hands’ and it might go to him,” Ren explains.

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    Life of a frontliner

    Ren with her 4-year-old son, Raine.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Ren Palma

    Like health workers and other frontliners, Ren is bound by her duty to serve the people. But to her, it is more than a job — it is her calling. During the enhanced community quarantine, part of Ren’s responsibilities is to man boundary checkpoints around NCR, “to ensure that this pandemic will no longer spread in neighboring towns, cities, and provinces,” as well as fulfill their anti-criminality mandate.

    Needless to say, her job is full of challenges and risks. “NCR-wide po kami. Kung saan po pinaka-kailangan at kulang po ang tao sa local police, doon po kami mag-a-augment,” Ren shares. “Halos dito na po kami sa camp natutulog kasi kami man po ay apektado rin at sumusunod sa ipinapatupad na community quarantine. Wala rin po kaming masakyan.”

    Our police force also lacks personal protective equipment (PPE). “Nag-improvise po kami [ng mask] made of plastic cover and rubber band to protect our face. Good thing that we also receive donations sometimes. Like in Muntinlupa, a dentist helped us out by giving away PPEs,” Ren shares. “Wala rin po kaming alcohol, pero gumawa na po ang chemist naming ng paraan para may pang-disinfect.”

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    This is the "face mask" that Ren and other police officers use while they are on patrol.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Ren Palma
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    Food is also scarce, especially because it’s hard to buy food while on the job. But thanks to fellow Pinoys who do not hesitate to lend a helping hand, they are able to get by. For that, Ren and her fellow officers are extremely grateful.

    Still, you cannot please everyone. One of the biggest challenges for police officers are the people who refuse to follow orders. “Naiintindihan po namin na irate sila dahil malaking abala nga po. Pero hindi po kami ang law-making power, implementors po kami at kung ano po ang utos ng batas, ‘yun po ang gagawin namin,” Ren says.

    “Nahihiya rin po kami sa mga tao ‘pag nagtatagal kami sa pag-che-check ng temperature. Pero ginagawan naman po ito ng paraan ng NCRPO at unti-unti na pong naaayos,” she adds.

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    ‘Remember me’

    Ren has not seen her son since the community quarantine was announced in Metro Manila. For now, she checks on him through calls.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Ren Palma

    In a Facebook post uploaded on March 17, Ren shares her feelings about the situation that forced her to be apart from her son. It has since gone viral, with almost a thousand shares and 119 comments as of this writing.

    “I miss my son. I remember him every second. But I have accepted the fact that seeing him is no longer a possibility,” Ren wrote. “Because I love him, I will not take the risk to go see him with his health at stake.”

    She adds, “I know that as a frontliner, I have been exposed to this deadly pathogen. It is the safest presumption to take to keep him safe.”

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    The mom admits that while she loves her job, she also can’t help but worry for the family she’s left behind. “’Yung pamilya na iniwan namin sa bahay wala rin sila, ni hindi kami makapagdala ng support sa kanila habang naghahatid kami ng tulong sa mga tao dito sa Metro Manila,” Ren says.


    But she has not given up hope, because as a police officer, she has witnessed the innate goodness and kindness of Filipinos. “I’m just praying deep inside na habang ginagawa ko po ito, may ipapadala rin pong angel sa pamilya ko na tutulong sa kanila. Naniniwala pa rin po kami sa spirit of bayanihan.”

    Ren says that while going home feels like a dream for now, she understands why it has to happen. She has to turn her back on her son to be in the service of her country and her people. In return, she only asks for one thing. “Please stay home,” she says. “May mga pamilya at pamumuhay na naaapektuhan nito pero sumusunod po kami para sa kanila at para sa inyo. Para hindi na lumala ang sitwasyon.”

    Being at the frontlines means sacrificing time away from your family. Click here for more inspirational stories about our heroes. For more stories on COVID-19, click here.

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