Three cities on the spot


By Ermin Garcia Jr.

IT is, indeed, heartening to learn that our towns and cities are racing to be declared drug-free by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Curiously, the cities of Dagupan, San Carlos and Urdaneta have not even been declared drug-free even by the Pangasinan PNP!  While this has not come as a surprise to many, the cities were labeled by PDEA before the war on drugs was launched, as hotbeds for shabu supply. Is it possible that the 3 cities continue to be sources of shabu?

Is it possible that the sources in the three cities continue to enjoy official protection? By whom?

What have their respective City Anti-Drug Advisory Councils, mayors and police chiefs have to say?

Alaminos City has beaten them all to the draw. It’s the lone drug-free city in Pangasinan.

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THE CHIEF AT THE CINEMA. The PUNCH tried to get an update from San Carlos Police Station’s Chief P/Supt. Nestor Cusi early morning last Friday on the status of his campaign against illegal drugs in the city.

And to our dismay, he instructed The PUNCH to get the update from the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PPPO) in Lingayen instead. So we did, only to be told by PPPO that Mr. Cusi should be in a position to give an update. When we texted him on the advice of PPPO, we got a prompt text reply at 8.12 a.m.: “I am at the cinema.” Ooops. Sorry po!

The police chief was busy watching a movie at 8a.m., even if theaters don’t open till 10 a.m.  (Can that be construed as ‘fake news’?) 

I guess it was Mr. Cusi’s way of telling us – “Do not disturb!”

Well, wonder no more why 19 of the drug-affected barangays in Pangasinan are in San Carlos City! (This is the update we got from PPPO).  The boss is ‘busy ‘at the cinema. (A barangay is said to be drug-affected when there is a reported presence of drug users, pushers, manufacturers, marijuana cultivators and other infrastructure related to the illegal narcotics).

So, here’s a fair warning to Provincial PNP Director P/Sr. Supt. Ronald Lee who said the war on drugs in the province is on a 24/7 alert, no letup in the campaign: Don’t bother asking Mr. Cusi and the city’s kapitans why they remain drug-affected to this day!

With Mr. Cusi (from Batangas, I am informed) as police chief of San Carlos City, I’m afraid Mr. Lee can forget his dream to make Pangasinan drug-free by December!  

Also, I wonder how City Mayor Joseres Resuello is taking to the embarrassing fact that his city is the only local government unit in Pangasinan that has the most number of barangays still drug-affected, more than a year after the war on drugs was launched by PDU30.

Not good.

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WANTED: KAMAY NA BAKAL.  Here’s a positive sign in response to the continued call of PDU30 to barangay kapitans to stop illegal drugs in their communities – a number of Liga ng mga Barangay in the provincial level have submitted their members to mandatory drug tests on the direction of their governors!

Alas, Pangasinan has yet to make that commitment in support of the war on drugs.

As police records show, there were and still are, known protectors of the drug trade in a number of barangays in the province as revealed by successful tokhang and buy-bust police operations. Yet, not all barangay officials subjected to tokhang have surrendered, and they continue to ply their trade in their communities.

As recently reported by Pangasinan PNP, there are still 852 barangays (out of 1,257) that remain drug-affected, that’s still 66%!

It’d be interesting to know who the kapitans, mayors and police chiefs of the drug-affected barangays are!

Paging Guv Pogi!! Your kapitans continue to refuse to follow your example. Kailangan na ng kamay na bakal in order to protect your constituents in 852 barangays!

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MORE CHECKPOINTS. The postponement of the Barangay and SK elections is a disservice to country.

Contrary to PDU30’s contention that elections will only extend the tenure of narco politicos in the barangay level, the postponement will, in fact, enable the narco-kapitans to build a wider base and shore up campaign funds to ensure their reelection.

But whatever, all that is now water under the bridge. It’s done. Elections are postponed.

With this development (gun ban and Comelec-police checkpoint lifted), the postponement will enable mobile operations of the guns-for-hire syndicates and drug traffickers to proceed unhampered again.

Perhaps and hopefully, this will not be case in Pangasinan since P/Sr. Supt. Ronald Lee announced that checkpoints will continue to be set up as a countermeasure to crime.

I join the thousands of families in the province who are praying that he will direct more unannounced checkpoints in all towns and cities as a matter of policy.

No road should be considered a safe getaway route for motorcycle-riding hitmen and drug couriers. They must be stopped.

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DASHCAMS FOR POLICE, PLEASE. To make our local police stations more effective in their operations when manning checkpoints, I suggest that local governments equip their police patrol cars and motorcycle units with dashcams and GoPro cameras (for motorcycle cops).

As proven by many successful police investigations, many crimes were solved with the help of CCTV cameras installed by private homes and stores.

Dashcams on police patrol vehicles manning checkpoints will be able to record images of vehicles that were eventually usd for getaway or assassination of persons not identified at the scene of the crime.

Motorcycle cops with GoPro-cams serve the same purpose.

PNP cannot possibly fund the costs of such cameras but local governments can allocate for such a necessary tool to keep peace and order in our communities.

Meanwhile, in the absence of dashcams and GoPro-cams, the police stations can consider tapping and organizing resident private vehicle owners whose units are equipped with dashcams. As a volunteer program, the car owners can agree, as special patrol units, to submit their dashcams for review when an investigation of a case requires it for purposes of possibly identifying getaway cars or motorcycles on the road.  As volunteers, their vehicles equipped with dashcams will be unmarked, and can be reached for activation to patrol the streets when a suspect is being chased.

Technology can extend the reach of the law through a partnership between the communities and the police for an ideal peace and order program.

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