Punchline

The personal challenge to new PNP–PD

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

THE interception of the 88 kilos of shabu worth P124 million in the streets is an indication that the war on drugs in Pangasinan is proceeding well…and bad.

Well because the interception was successful and the undocumented Chinese nationals involved were arrested. Well because the operation was well-coordinated among different law enforcement units.  Well because the successful drug operation left a good impression on the service record of outgoing Pangasinan PNP director P/Col. Wilson Lopez.  And well, because the PNP-PD, P/Col. Redrico Maranan, is taking the development as a personal challenge to improve on the war on drugs in the province – and win!

Bad because the Chinese drug syndicates found the province a convenient place to operate in. Bad because it means the drug syndicate found protectors here to be able to operate. Bad because law enforcers obviously failed to detect the drug syndicates’ operations early on. Bad because the undocumented Chinese who don’t speak and read English or any local dialect are able to get around and survive obviously with a support from some local Chinese who speak the dialect and English. 

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LOW PUBLIC AWARENESS. The war on drugs here is obviously still far from being won.

There are still 347 barangays that are drug affected. And knowing how the drug trading goes, drug pushers in those barangays operate in other drug-cleared barangays as well.  Today, as PDEA defines it, a barangay is drug-cleared if it has accounted for the whereabouts and neutralization of known drug pushers (and users?) in its territory.  One can only wonder how many areas an accounted drug pusher has penetrated.

But there is a bigger obstacle that our law enforcers are facing today in the campaign vs. drugs. I sense that the level of awareness in communities is already seeing a decline.  Could it be that identifying their barangays as drug-cleared has lulled residents to believe that, indeed, no more drug trading is happening in their communities?

The minimal efforts exerted by the Pangasinan PNP in the past months to update local media and communicate gains achieved in the frontline have not helped any to keep the level of awareness continuously high. With lower awareness, public’s cooperation is not encouraged to help in the campaign in the province.

In this regard, my unsolicited advice to Col. Maranan is to direct a weekly regular update on the campaign to the local media, particularly the TV and radio. Reported updates on buy-bust operations and serving of warrants in towns will encourage residents to be on the lookout for others. It also keeps residents aware that their police chiefs are on the job, protecting them 24/7!

Mr. Maranan’s update on the war on drugs upon his assumption of his post gave us the impression that the war will not take a back seat under his watch.  Good hunting!

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EXPECTATIONS. Dagupan Mayor Belen Fernandez’s regular update on the status of her ongoing programs and projects is serving her constituents well.  For her to give those regular updates on Facebook, she has to make the rounds regularly like she always did.

She proved her detractors wrong, particularly those who didn’t vote for her and thought she would be a lame duck till end of June.  She’s more visible than ever like she didn’t go through an election she just lost.

Mayor-elect Brian Lim will be expected to the rounds himself to update Dagupeños of the progress of the unfinished work of his predecessor. After all, the projects of the city government have no political color… funds were spent on infra projects in communities in need.

What would be taken against him is if he decides to discontinue an infra project or social services program whose need has been justified and prioritized. What can be expected of him, instead, is perhaps to pick up initiatives where his father, the late BSL, left off in 2013.

In fact, there is merit for him to push the development and promotion of the Dawel River Cruise further and hopefully with one difference – make a full accounting of the project, i.e.,  acquisition and maintenance costs of boats, no. and names of personnel, revenues earned. Those were missing during BSL’s time.

I sincerely hope the young Lim (and the returning city administrator Vlad Mata) shall have learned from the mistakes of his father – unabated corruption that tainted his great vision for the city, that could have made BSL one of the city’s best mayors with a legacy to be proud of. 

Perhaps, Mayor-elect Brian could be one and do better where his father failed.

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DISCRIMINATION VS. PANGASINENSES.  The six affluent chauffeur-driven members of the House of Representatives from Pangasinan may not still be aware of it but the pending implementation of the ban of provincial buses on EDSA in Metro Manila is a clear attempt at discriminating against Pangasinenses and other locals from central and northern Luzon.

But for them to fully understand the burden and inconvenience being imposed on their constituents, they are advised to take one of their trips to Manila on board any of the provincial buses with franchises to carry passengers to Metro Manila. Only then will they understand the difficulties of a traveler from Pangasinan, being made to transfer from the bus to another in Valenzuela town to reach and exit Metro Manila.  (A similar imposition is experienced when traveling from Metro Manila to Valenzuela).

The new policy expected to be implemented this month must be opposed vehemently by our congressmen. Their constituents are being made to suffer from the incompetence or because of pecuniary interests of some MMDA officials on the new ban.

One simply cannot find logic in the proposed policy and instead suspect a profitable proposition to benefit MMDA officials.

Consider the following.

The provincial buses are being banned because their exclusion will improve the congestion being experienced daily along EDSA. Initially, provincial buses were banned from loading and unloading along EDSA and ordered to transport their passengers to their terminals on EDSA (like P2P buses do). Then, MMDA upped the ante by banning operations of provincial buses’ terminals on EDSA leaving provincial buses nowhere to go. 

Ah, then the final solution – to compel passengers from Pangasinan to take P2P buses in Valenzuela town to take them to EDSA or terminals outside of EDSA. Then comes the obvious questions: where will be points of embarkation and disembarkation of P2P buses in MM? How many P2P buses will be deployed daily to service the passengers to go-and-fro Valenzuela? Will the P2P buses traverse EDSA and load-unload passengers?

The expected answers can only negate the very reasons why they want to ban provincial buses. By deploying P2P buses, they will be taking the space on EDSA left by provincial buses. So where is the promised decongestion?

They are closing terminals of provincial buses on EDSA yet will designate places along EDSA where passengers can access the P2P buses. So what was the closing of terminals for if the P2P buses will have to be positioned along EDSA or near EDSA?

The proposition to introduce P2P buses only partially mitigates the inconvenience served Pangasinan travelers. The only obvious beneficiary of the discriminating ban policy are the owners and investors of the P2P buses that will be deployed as another franchise.

Our congressmen should be curious to know who own the P2P buses!  

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