Modesty aside, the years during the Tupas administration saw the best period in terms of law enforcement in the province of Iloilo.
Under the late Gov. Niel Tupas, Sr., cattling rustling was whittled down to almost zero incidence. Illegal fishing was greatly curbed. Guns-for-hire became scarce. Illegal gambling in the municipalities declined to barely existing.
And most important of all, the illegal drugs trade was reduced.
Did Gov. Tupas have to kill any one criminal?
It was a matter of political will.
Effective law enforcement is a matter of making sure the laws are obeyed, and the police and other law enforcement agencies do their job.
It was during this period that PDEA under then Regional Director Roy Sanchez and ARD Paul Ledesma enjoyed a sustained period of drug busts, including several major apprehensions.
How did Gov. Tupas do that?
He put up a P1 million fund as reward money for PDEA and PNP operatives. Each and every successful buy-bust gets a reward of P5,000 to P15,000 depending on the volume.
No, the law enforcers didn’t use the money to celebrate with food and drinks.
They used the money as operational fund to plan and execute more buy-busts. It was used to buy intelligence. It was used as marked buy-bust money.
Many local chief executives fail to understand the psychology of our law enforcers. Most of our men and women in uniform want to accomplish good deeds in their line of work. The biggest obstacle to them is the lack of support.
Gov. Tupas understood that psychology. He funded their operations and rewarded accomplishments with citations. He provided the PNP with patrol vehicles and motorcycles.
There was a time when we — Roy Sanchez, Paul Ledesma and Atty. Ronnie U. Delicana — planted a mole inside the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center.
We discovered that the sale and distribution of “shabu” was going on inside the jail facility in Nanga, Pototan.
For several days, we monitored the transactions and obtained information on who was involved. We found out that a number of provincial guards and inmates were behind it.
Soon enough, we busted that syndicate.
The support didn’t end there.
There was an instance when drug suspects seemed to have protection in the provincial prosecutor’s office. Several arrested drug suspects were allowed to go scot-free on flimsy grounds.
Gov. Tupas quickly stopped giving allowances to the provincial prosecutor’s office as sanction. It didn’t take long for the message to be understood. The situation changed in favor of the good guys.
Effective law enforcement is about effective local governance. It’s about the Governor or Mayor cracking the whip and making sure the PNP, NBI and PDEA do their jobs.
Nobody needs to be killed extra judicially. It’s not about body count. It’s about asserting leadership.

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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