By Raïssa Robles
The morning news shows on TV and radio quickly phoned senior police officers for updates.
NO ONE called the mayors of Makati City and Pasay City to press them for their comment, since the crime occurred along the boundary of both cities. This is even though under our local government set-up, the mayor is the overlord of his city or town. He calls the shots.
It’s to the mayors’ advantage that no one calls them to account for the rising criminality in their areas.
And it’s high time that citizens and the media start pressuring mayors AND governors to be accountable for reducing criminal incidents in their area. This was what they were voted to office for.
The Local Government Code (Republic Act No. 7160) gives chief local government executives vast powers to curb criminality in their area. When it comes to maintaining peace and order, The Code gives the same powers to the city mayors, the town mayors and the provincial governors. These are to:
Act as the deputized representative of the National Police Commission, formulate the peace and order plan of the city and upon its approval, implement the same; and as such exercise general and operational control and supervision over the local police forces in the city, in accordance with R.A. No. 6975;
Call upon the appropriate law enforcement agencies to suppress disorder, riot, lawless violence, rebellion or sedition, or to apprehend violators of the law when public interest so requires and the city police forces are inadequate to cope with the situation or the violators.
I don’t know why mayors aren’t pressured by the media and the public to do their part in reducing crime. Personally, as a citizen, I seem to have the same attitude towards mayors and governors. For instance, when akyat bahay gangs were active in our area, no one among us petitioned the mayor to do something about it. Kasi nakakahiya. Busy si mayor. Sa pulis na lang.
But the police rarely solve such crimes. They’re mostly good for recording them on their blotters at the stations.
UPDATE: as of 7:06 PM, July 3, 2013
Nothing is said about the mayor of Pasay also being held responsible for making sure this multiple murder is solved.
We have to change our attitudes toward those in political office. They are being paid by our tax money to, among others, drastically reduce crime.
Let me just cite three recent crime incidents.
A tragic jeepney robbery occurred last March 6 in Manila. A 30-year-old female passenger was shot dead in the pre-dawn hours after she refused to give robbers her mobile phone, computer tablet and wallet that contained a lot of cash.
The new Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada is correct when he said today that he had issued a new order to the new Manila police chief to “eliminate” all criminals in the city. Estrada told ABS-CBN:
“Eh talagang ang bilin ko sa pulis, sa bagong chief of police, sabi ko within 100 days, kailangan ubos ang kriminal sa Maynila. Kapag hindi, kailangan mag-resign kayo.”
While the order shows Mayor Estrada making himself fully accountable for reducing crime in the capital, I am curious to find out what the phrase “ubos and kriminal” means and how the police chief will interpret it operationally.
In Makati City, the stretch of China Roces Avenue (formerly Pasong Tamo) has been plagued with numerous stick-up incidents on board passenger jeepneys plying the road.
The latest hold-up incident there was reported by an employee of Philippine Daily Inquirer – which is located along Chino Roces. The crime took place during rush hour.
Please read the excerpt of The Inquirer report below:
The Inquirer tried to obtain records on the number of jeepney robberies along Chino Roces Avenue recently but the police precincts had no consolidated report. The thoroughfare is under the jurisdiction of four precincts and four barangays, according to the police.
John Reyes, a village watchman for Barangay Pio del Pilar, said robberies on Pasong Tamo have indeed become rampant and brazen.
“Just last night (Tuesday) around 7 p.m., passengers of a jeepney in front of the Citimotors on Pasong Tamo lost their mobile phones to robbers,” he said.
Reyes said he was not exactly sure of the common profiles of the robbers but he has recorded three cases since January involving two men, one is burly and another is lanky.
“They would normally park their motorcycle near where they will decide to declare the holdup,” Reyes said.
Reached for comment, Senior Superintendent Manuel Lukban, the city police chief, said the Makati police and members of the public Safety Battalion of the Southern Police District regularly patrolled the streets including Chino Roces Avenue and Dela Rosa Street to deter crimes.
But he noted that robbery groups could also be watching the police’s movements and strike whenever they were not visible.
From the report, it seems robberies continue to happen because no barangay and no police precinct is in charge of the entire avenue since the street spans four barangays and four precincts.
However, notice in the report that the Mayor of Makati City, who would have been in charge of the entire area, was not asked to comment on the rising robberies.
Here’s another report of a jeepney robbery, this time in Quezon City before dawn. A Channel 4 reporter was robbed off his mobile phone, a flash disk and a shirt. The report doesn’t say whether he was wearing the shirt and was made to strip it.
More robberies go unreported in the media, I bet. Because they happen to ordinary people and no one is injured. Just shaken in their trust of their fellow men.
I’ve heard policemen give this advice on the air – when someone robs you at gunpoint, give your valuables and don’t fight back.
It’s good advice. And one that I once had to follow to the letter when two men boarded a cab I was in. The policeman who took down my statement said afterward that it was good I had some cash I just withdrew from the ATM to pay my phone bill. Otherwise, the robbers might have shot in anger.
The latest robbery that got reported in the papers took place just two weeks ago along busy Katipunan Avenue.
A female law student boarded a cab in front of a supermarket along Katipunan to go to her evening class at the University of the Philippines College of Law. The cab driver announced the hold-up. Three other men were involved. She lost all her gear.
Now Katipunan Avenue has for years been notorious as a crime spot. It’s a mini-university belt in Quezon City. Thousands of students frequent and live in the area.
Here’s what I suggest those studying and residing in the area do. Each residential condo has an association. The two schools there have student organizations. The business establishments there have owners. All of them can write separate and joint letters, not just to the police but also to the city mayor and demand action.
You have the right to do that. Your taxes are paying their salaries.
Oh, and when you submit your letters to the Office of the Mayor, make sure to have another copy stamped “received” and get a contact number and name with whom to follow up your letter. Otherwise, your letters disappear into the black hole of the bureaucracy.
And if you don’t get ANY ANSWER and crime incidents continue, Facebook it. Tweet it. Make noise about it. Stage a rally about it. And don’t vote for them in the next election.