Crime busting

A spate of crimes that hit Iloilo City during the last few days has forced police authorities to review a novel concept of taking away patrol vehicles from the direct control of police stations and deploying them in designated pre-position locations supposedly to increase visibility. From the start, the idea received negative feedback from the local media because it tended to handicap a very important component of police work — mobility. It was a trial-and-error approach that apparently backfired, and now, City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog is a very unhappy man. He can’t allow the city to build a name as “crime city”.

Perhaps this is the result of having a city police director who is not an Ilonggo. Effective police work is not just about a show of authority and presence. It delves into culture and knowledge of the community. When a police official is a stranger to a community, it’s hard for him to understand the dynamics of its people, and harder still to gain the trust and cooperation of the community. This is something that Mayor Mabilog should now try to understand if he wants the situation to shift from bad to good. The failure of the police will be his failure.

Like any other growing city, Iloilo has always had its share of crimes. But in the past, we saw our police directors stay a step ahead of crime, and murders and robberies were occasional incidents rather than a string of cases in a short period of time. In the late 80s, we had the late Col. Achilles Plagata (who became a city councilor) serve as Metrodiscom (forerunner of.  the ICPO) chief, and I think it was a model of how effective police leadership is carried out. In those days, police conducted nightly patrols in the city’s watering holes and checked for weapons. Checkpoints were conducted even when there is no gun ban. And I think it wasn’t a matter of style — the police commander knew his community and he wanted to keep it safe for its people.

Being police chief isn’t an 8 to 5 job. It is a full-time job, meaning 24/7. Even while a commander is home with his family, half of his mind is still occupied by what is happening around the community. It’s not uncommon for good police chiefs to stay up late with the men, especially when an enforcement operation is 0n-going. As former provincial administrator of Iloilo, I saw this trait in among a number of PNP provincial directors, notable among whom was P/SSUPT Ricardo de la Paz. The likes of Ric de la Paz made local officials comfortable that crime syndicates are kept on the run, rather than them dictating the tempo. The record of Iloilo province as one of the most peaceful in the country during the incumbency of Governor Niel Tupas Sr. is the envy of many LGUs.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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