Before the Jose de Venecia ouster and the Rodolfo ‘Jun’ Lozada Jr. expose, there was a more compelling issue that sadly slipped the public’s mind. I’m referring to a PNP memorandum entitled: “The Revival of Baton in the Maintenance of Peace and Order in the Philippines,” with its enlightening sub-head, “Maintaining the Country’s Peace and Order through the Revival of the Baton.”

By using the word “revival,” the memo rightly suggests that the baton is dead, so it has to be “revived,” or as the dictionary puts it, “to become popular once more because the baton is not actually a sissy weapon like the whistle.”

The PNP organization, upon the recommendation of the Baton and Other Friendly Weapons Bureau, issued the memo after high-end peace-keeping weapons, like assault rifles and grenade launchers, failed to annihilate snatchers, peeping toms and other top level criminals. Also, the Baton Bureau was alarmed after learning that the Center for Funny Props in Philippine Cinema listed the baton as the most successful come-on in Dolphy and Joey Marquez movies.

But let’s digress. Tell me honestly, don’t you find the word “batuta” funny? It tops my list of funny words along with “spatula,” “ju-jitsu” and “nipple.”

Anyway. “The baton is a sacred weapon that should be rescued from the ignominy of showbiz!,” the memo read, in what appears to be one of those rare occasions when an official document actually uses an exclamation point.

The memo includes a primer on the baton for the post Edsa generation (where most of today’s snatchers and peeping toms belong) who understands the baton as a stick tasseled at both ends that a majorette in a high school marching band twirls around when she’s not doing it in a talent portion of a beauty pageant.

The memo’s primer read: “A baton (from bâton, the French for stick) or truncheon (nightstick in American English) is essentially a stick of less than arms-length, usually made of wood, plastic, or metal, and carried by law enforcement, corrections, security, and military personnel for less-lethal self-defense and to disperse combative, non-compliant subjects.”

A standard baton is approximately one and a quarter inches in diameter and from 18 to 36 inches long. A few inches longer and it’s a baseball bat; a few inches shorter and it’s a dildo. You can just imagine the great deal of caution wood carvers exercise in producing a single baton so it will serve its intended purpose.

The operative phrase in the memo is “less-lethal defense.” Meaning, a baton is to be used in a situation where a surface-to-surface missile is inappropriate and a pepper spray is insufficient.

But a policeman couldn’t just hit a non-compliant subject anywhere. The memo includes a list of body parts a policeman should avoid hitting: head, neck, face, eyebrows, moustache, fingernails, the liver, the small intestine and the esophagus. The rest, like the teeth and kneecaps, are safe.

There’s actually an orthopedic condition called Nightstick Fracture, which is a fracture of the ulna, so called because it’s the kind of injury that results when attempting to block the downward blow of a nightstick with the raised forearm. But we’re running out of space. So, for the medical connection between orthopedics and the country’s peace and order, type “batuta + boner + equipment” and click search.

(, february 19, 2008)