FOUR IN PANGASINAN
LINGAYEN—The rising number of stoning incidents on the highways in the region have so alarmed the police that it prompted the police director of Region 1 to sack 10 police chiefs in the region for failing to stop stoning of vehicles in their respective jurisdictions.
“I want to stop these stoning incidents,” P/Chief Superintendent Romulo Sapitula, regional director, told local newsmen Thursday during the 1st GenRom Cup Invitational Shootfest that at the Sison Police Headquarters.
According to Pangasinan police director P/Sr. Superintendent Ronald Lee, the police chiefs in Malasiqui, Sison, San Nicolas, Urbiztondo and Umingan were among those relieved from their posts. (Note: the police chiefs of Urbiztondo and Umingan were also relieved for completing their mandatory 2-year tour of duty).
In less than two months this year, police records already showed 44 stoning incidents in Region 1, many of these in Pangasinan, followed by Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and La Union, Sapitula said.
“So when I told police chiefs I would relieve them, I really did. That’s my policy,” he said.
At his subsequent meeting with bus operators, P/Chief Inspector Dominic Poblete, chief of Operations and Plans Branch of the Pangasinan Police Office, confirmed that 43 stoning cases have occurred from January to March 8 alone.
He said the alarming increase will not just cause physical damage to buses or vehicles victimized “but also the operational management of our police stations”.
Most of the recent stoning incidents happened in Pozorrubio town (along the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway stretch), Villasis and Rosales, mainly along provincial and national roads.
So far, the following have had no stoning incidents as of March 8: Aguilar, Alcala, Anda, Balungao, Basista, Bautista, Binalonan, Binmaley, Bolinao, Calasiao, Dagupan City, Dasol, Laoac, Manaoag, Mapandan, Natividad, San Carlos City, San Fabian, San Jacinto, San Manuel, San Nicolas, San Quintin, Sison, Sto Tomas and Urbiztondo.
Most happened on Sundays with the suspects struck between 8:00 p.m. to 12 a.m. Most of those suspects were minors.
“So I’m warning the parents of these minors, they will also be held liable,” he said.
He added he has instructions to police chiefs that parents of apprehended minors will be charged for damages.
“I’m focused on the prevention, not just on the solution,” he said. “Even if you are able to arrest the suspects, but if there are passengers hurt, that’s what I don’t want to happen,” he added.
Sapitula said he may be harsh in his decision to sack police chiefs over stoning incidents but the data in 2017 alone showed more than 200 cases throughout Region 1.
He said those who are behind stoning are known in the barangays. “So why don’t the police look for them and warn them in the presence of their parents?” he said.
He said the Pangasinan Police Office, in coordination with law enforcement agencies tasked to implement land transportation laws, the Department of Public Works and Highways and other support groups, will prepare a management plan geared towards the prevention and solutions to stop stoning incidents and thereby restore safety in road travels in Pangasinan. (Eva Visperas/ Nora Dominguez)
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