Punchline

“Shared Responsibility” in protection racket?

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

SOMETHING was amiss in the enforcement of the firecracker law and executive order of President Duterte. Notwithstanding the ban and intensified campaign in media vs. illegal firecrackers, there was still obviously ample supply of deadly banned firecrackers manufactured in various barangays prepared for the New Year revelry. 

For PNP provincial director Redrico Maranan and his office to still seize 21,000 pieces of banned firecrackers can only mean one thing: Barangay officials have been protecting manufacturers, distributors and vendors of the banned firecrackers the whole time. Were there police officers complicit in the protection racket? How was it possible that police stations failed to act on the sources of the banned items before these could be distributed to vendors?

At the same time, the provincial PNP only managed to arrest six persons who were caught red handed preparing to explode a roll of plapla! Why only six? There were successful test-buys but we failed to see a report that said those caught selling the banned firecrackers were arrested and charged. Why aren’t guilty vendors charged? 

If this lax enforcement continues over the years, the province will never achieve a zero-injury target ever.

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ILLEGAL GAMBLING, PARKING. Another obvious case of protection racket in Dagupan City are the continued operation of ‘drop-ball’ right in the heart of the business district, specifically behind the building of a big merchandise store, and the exemption of customers of Metro Plaza to park and occupy sidewalks in front of it.

Is it possible that the nightly operation of this illegal gambling not known to both the barangay kapitan and the city police?

Should they wish to deny knowledge of that illegal gambling, I can show them pictures sent to me by a PUNCH reader showing the ‘drop ball’ operations taken by one who gambled there before Christmas.

Then, we have vendors who’ve been shooed away from sidewalks griping about the special privileges given the operators of restaurants inside Metro Plaza located in front of the city hall. They see the sidewalks being reserved for parking of their customers in violation of city ordinance and DILG directive.

Is it possible that both POSO chief Rob Erfe-Mejia and DILG City Director Marlyn Laguipo don’t’ see what the vendors see every day?

Given this situation, it makes one wonder how much protection the drug syndicates are getting from barangay officials and the police?

Is official protection of anything illegal now the name of the game under the Lim administration? Tsk tsk…

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FOR TONG, NOT FOR PUBLIC SAFTEY. Last week, we criticized the designation of a firecracker zone in Dagupan City – right in front of the West Central Elementary School which was 20 meters away from the city plaza where fiesta activities were being held daily, 50 meters away from the St. John’s Cathedral where dawn masses were celebrated daily for 9 days for Simbang Gabi and the usual crowded Sunday masses.

Not a few wondered why Mayor Brian Lim allowed the designation of the firecracker zone in the crowded area when E.O. 28 and the R.A. 9514 and R.A. 7183 expressly directed the designation of firecracker zone for public safety.

The city government complied with designation of firecracker zone but patently disregarded the guideline for public safety.  Curiously, not even PNP regional director Joel Orduña and city police chief Abubakar Mangelen found nothing wrong with the designation in the area. They were seen inspecting permits of the vendors inside the zone area. 

Another fly in the ointment was the report to us that the vendors admitted they were being made to pay a stiff daily fee to a group allied with the city hall occupants for the right to sell in the area daily.

“Shared Responsibility” in protection racket”, huh, Mayor Lim??

Paging DILG Regional Director James Fadrilan!

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