I’M saying this in the wake of the feared resurgence of petty crimes in Metro Manila and the rest of the county amid the opening of face-to-face classes last Monday. This is expected since street criminals would now be having more opportunity to hit more targets, students included if nobody is watching.
The government decision to finally have normal classes after a 2-year stoppage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is highly expected to become a further boom for the economy. We will see more poor Filipinos—bus, jeepney, taxi and jeepney drivers, ambulant vendors and the like having more students and teachers for customers.
Let me also cite our barber shops. It is a fact that since 2020, many barber shops have closed due to lack of customers, specifically students. My favorite barber told me that most of their income comes from elementary and high school students who are required to have a proper haircut by their teachers. I expect the haircut business to flourish once again now that regular school have opened.
However, I also expect petty criminals—holdup artists, pickpockets, bag slashers, members of Salisi, Budol-Budol, Dura, Barya-Barya Gangs and other common thieves as well as street-level drug dealers to also take advantage of the school opening to ply their illegal trade anew.
Records will show that during the start of the strict PNP enforcement of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Metro Manila and other parts of the country in 2020, the police force recorded a highly-commendable 61 percent drop in the crime rate, specifically the 8 major crimes.
However, the big reduction on crime volume during those period was due to the strict ECQ implementation where movement of majority of Filipinos-except for Authorized Persons Outside of Residence-were controlled for months. It has been said that the ECQ effectively prevented criminals from leaving their homes and as a result, crimes in our country dropped.
Now that quarantine protocols have been relaxed and face-to-face-classes in different colleges and universities as well as high school and elementary schools, both public and private have started, police should maintain its vigilance, and with the help of the citizenry, go all-out in its effort to prevent the return of criminals in our streets.
During those period when the government strictly implemented peace and order protocols, the PNP leadership said that cases of murder, homicide, physical injury, rape, theft and robbery and motor vehicle and motorcycle theft greatly went down.
Thus, I fully agree with PNP chief, General Jun Azurin when he said that all his men should be on their toes, to remain extra-vigilant, not to relax and give criminals the opportunity to attack their targets.
Gen. Azurin’s instructions to his men in fact are very simple” Walang inuman sa kanto. Walang nambabastos sa mga kababaihan. Walang mandurukot. Walang maingay sa mga kabahayan pagkalipas ng alas-dies ng gabi.” Add to that the strict enforcement of curfew hours for minors.
The PNP in 2020 noted that nearly 200,000 curfew violators and disobedient citizens were apprehended, some fined, some ordered to perform community service. What is glaring here is that those police actions greatly contributed to a significant improvement in our peace and order situation.
Now that School Year 2022-2023 has begun, police also need to check bars, computer shops, billiard halls and other commercial establishments located near schools and universities to ensure that they won’t be violating ordinances enacted to protect the students amid the new normal.
Gen. Azurin said that it is a routine duty of the police force to strictly enforce all ordinances aimed at keeping the streets and the community safe, thus the need for his men to see to it that there possible violations that may be committed by any of the above-named establishments would be immediately checked.
All our 17 police regional offices led by the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Brigadier Gen. Jong Estomo have been required by the top cop to strictly implement ordinances approved by local government units as they go all-out to keep the streets safe 24/7.
What is clear here is that if only all PNP commanders will fully enforce all existing city, municipal and barangay ordinances in their areas which were all designed to keep peace and help prevent trouble and criminality, there would be less problem for them.
For one, he said that police must strictly enforce curfew hours for minors, the ban on drinking in public and playing of karaoke or videoke machines past 10 in the evening until 4 in the morning which are already ordinances long approved by different city, municipal and barangay councils. Strict curfew enforcement for sure would also greatly prevent occurrences of violent gang wars involving young kids armed with knives, stones, molotov bombs and in some cases, even guns.
There is also a need for the police to regularly check–with utmost courtesy to all– beer joints, billiard halls, computer shops and other suspected vice joints located near schools and universities amid complaints that they have been serving as a beehive of activities of students who are cutting classes and in some instances, a haven of petty thieves.
PNP MAINTAINS TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN ALL DONATIONS
On another note, Gen. Azurin has also assured well-meaning donors and other Good Samaritans helping the force that all items they have donated are accounted for, properly acknowledged, and judiciously entered in PNP Books as PNP property and subject to government accounting and auditing procedures.
The top cop made the assurance in response to reports of the Commission on Audit’s flagging of unrecorded donated vehicles in the PNP Book of Accounts. Citing reports from PNP Director for Logistics, Major General Ronnie Olay, the PNP chief said all of the donated vehicles flagged by COA in its Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM), are duly accounted for.
In fact, he added that the corresponding documentation to support the proper recording of the donated vehicles received by the national headquarters from 2017 to 2021 has already been reported to COA as early as June 2022.
The PNP chief has ordered an immediate review of the completeness, and accuracy of all necessary documents required by law for due recording in the PNP’s books covering other donations. Maj. Gen. Olay, a former PNP spokesperson echoed the PNP chief’s statement and said that the police organization has a high sense of accountability to its donors.
According to Olay, they remain fully committed to transparency when it comes to the receipt, recording, and utilization of various donations it receives from the public.
The two officials issued the statement after COA reported that donations made to the police force amounting to P267.085 million remain unrecorded in its books of accounts.
As of end of 2021, the donations received by the PNP remain unrecorded due to the non-submission of deeds of donation and other relevant documents by logistics officers to their respective accounting units, COA said.
However, the audit team noted that the PNP management agreed to the recommendations, among others, to promptly submit copies of the deeds of donation and other documents for all unrecorded donated properties.
The PNP reported that in the national headquarters, 40 out of the subject 50 donations were already taken up in the accounting records upon receipts of the deeds of donation by various offices concerned.
Other offices such as the NCRPO as well as provincial offices in Regions 3,5,6 and 9 among others have also submitted the necessary documents for recording. As explained by the PNP-DL, it is just a case of ‘late reporting.’