Punchline

Earning public support for PNP

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

 

THANKS to the leadership of PNP Regional Director, Chief Superintendent Romulo Sapitula, the region is seeing a leadership that clearly defines its priorities, guided by parameters and sanctions.

I don’t believe I have seen any chief superintendent that did what Mr. Sapitula has done and is doing – sacking and relieving under-performing police chiefs on the spot, the Duterte way!

Like PDU30 who has no qualms about firing cabinet secretaries on mere suspicion of involvement in corruption activities, we have a Mr. Sapitula in the region that recognizes performance based on clear mission and measurable target.  Sacking police chiefs without much ado was unheard of in the past, not with this police general.

In fact, until he took over, and after the 2017 campaign of the Pangasinan PNP to have towns declared as drug-cleared, the campaign on the ground began to cool down. There were very few buy-bust operations as if a moratorium had already been declared, and the drug syndicates were back with a vengeance.

With Mr. Sapitula at the region’s helm, we are finally seeing a motivated police force out to fulfill a mission particularly in the war on drugs particularly.

It’s certainly reassuring to Pangasinenses to learn of known and new drug pushers in their villages being busted and detained again!

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THREE STRIKE POLICY VS. KAPITANS.  While It’s encouraging to get reports from the Pangasinan PNP (with PDEA) that they are actively pursuing the war on drugs despite official declarations of many towns as drug-cleared, I believe  the leadership by accountability of PNP regional director Sapitula can make a lot more difference if he applies it as well on the performance of barangay officials. 

Frankly, I am afraid with no further sanctions introduced in the campaign against illegal drugs, buy-bust operations involving the police and the PDEA will be so predictable that drug syndicates will find ways to break the momentum, and they will succeed. Why? Because the drug syndicates only have to deal with raiding teams, and nobody else. 

But there is one dominant element in the campaign that is largely sidelined –  the role of barangay kapitans. They remain outside of the equation and yet everyone knows that nothing happens in the barangay without the kapitan knowing about it. There can be no drug dealing in the neighborhood if the kapitan wants to keep it that way, and vice versa. The province has many examples of this, starting from barangays in Sto. Tomas town.

 My point is – it’s time to make our kapitans accountable, seriously accountable for presence of drug trading in his/her village, very much like making police chiefs accountable today.

 At the rate the war on drugs is going with such an intensity, soon the drug –cleared status is will begin to lose its purpose and meaning with the resurgence of drug activities in barangays. Take the towns of Bugallon, Malasiqui, Sison and Urdaneta. These were drug-cleared but suspected drug pushers were caught doing business in those towns’ barangays.

 Mr. Sapitula can be two steps, not just one step, ahead of the drug syndicates by making kapitans accountable too –  with a 3-strike policy.

By this, we suggest that if drug pushers are caught in three buy-bust operations in their areas over a month period, it should be an occasion for the Regional and  Pangasinan PNP to submit a recommendation to the DILG to have the negligent kapitan investigated and suspended for dereliction of duties.

I’m certain this will be supported by Guv Pogi who recently outlined his priorities for the newly elected barangay officials – unity, peace and order. 

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Let there be no mistake about where The PUNCH stands on the government’s war on drugs, particularly in Pangasinan. It is squarely behind it as much as it is against a conspiracy by law enforcers to commit extra-judicial killings (EJK).

Having stated that, The PUNCH finds it not only useful but to do justice to the law forcers’ efforts to show to the world through our print and online (website) editions, and FB account how Pangasinan PNP is faring in the campaign.

It is for this reason that our reporters are tasked regularly to get updates from town and city police chiefs, PDEA provincial office and the Pangasinan PNP office.

We are therefore dismayed when some police chiefs, including PPPO spokesman, P/Chief Inspector Norman Florentino casually dismisses our requests for updated information, reaction and statements.

Perhaps Mr. Florentino has no full appreciation of his job which is to communicate issues, information, updates, data on police matters to the public. A well-informed citizenry invites confidence and trust in the police. If he can’t see this, then PD Wilson Lopez should view this as failure on the part of Mr. Florentino to perform, very much like police chiefs who can’t stop drug dealing in their respective jurisdictions.

Mr. Lopez should know that whatever is not dished out, it is he who ultimately will have to suffer the consequence of lack of public trust in his command., not Mr. Florentino. This much Mr. Lopez should know.

Right now, it is the office of Chief Superintendent Romulo Sapitula who is gaining respect and trust for the region’s police, and we credit him and his information office for this.

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REDUNDANT.  In our editorial, we pointed out the redundancy of the move of the Dagupan City Council in adopting the resolution calling for the creation of an Anti-Flood Task Force to be led by Mayor Belen Fernandez.

Even given the good intention of that resolution, I thought the councilors missed the opportunity to walk the talk in addressing the calamitous flooding that hit the city. Instead of showing how they can best help address the situation, they conveniently passed the buck to city hall with the creation of the task force.

In the first place, Mayor Fernandez could have created the task force herself without the city council directing it. That’s the executive‘s role – to act with dispatch. Also, by creating the task force, the city council impliedly told the mayor that she has to report its activities to the city council based on the parameters and guidelines it issued! Wow!

Hence, I believe the city council overstepped its function by directing the mayor what it should do in this case. What it is mandated to do mainly is to hold the executive responsible for actions or inactions taken given the budget it had been provided. (Note: The task force was not afforded a budget. It was not asked for in the first place).

If the good councilors would like to be seen as part of the solution, it must seek to initiate a plan of action independent of the executive but can encourage participation and cooperation between them. 

The city council can very well seek to propose and arrange on its own for instance the holding of a summit on flooding and the environment.  Since it is the city hall that has the resources, the city council can invite the executive to assist. 

Since the whole city suffered from the extended flooding, Dagupeños want to see everyone in government pulling and pushing whatever they can to mitigate flooding in the city. If the constant flooding is not effectively arrested, millions will continue to be lost in both property damages and business opportunities. 

Lest our officials forget, flood recognizes no political color or stature, but it can pinpoint blame for inaction.

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