Pork barrel in lieu of CCTV cameras

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

THE importance of the CCTV in solving crimes is again highlighted in the case of retired police general Marlou Chan’s ambush. Guns-for-hire practically become invisible without the CCTV cameras. Fortunately, initial recovered footages caught images of the suspects.

But this will hardly be the case if hitmen riding in tandem have targets in Dagupan City because Mayor Dagupan Brian Lim decided to cancel the budget allocated for the purchase of CCTV cameras to be installed in all barangays in the city.

The trade-off for the cancelled budget for public safety are “community projects” at the discretion of the barangay chairmen. Translation: pork barrel!

While urban cities in the country are rushing to adopt a safe city program using technology massively, Dagupan City under the Lim administration would rather do the usual politics for governance. Tsk-tsk.

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LESSONS ON HIGH PROFILE CASES. There are two important lessons that communities are beginning to learn from high profile cases like the deadly ambush on Mr. Chan and last year’s ambush on ex-Cong. Amado Espino Jr.

First is the police investigators’ heavy reliance on footages of CCTV cameras to provide initial clues on the identities of the suspects. Why not?

The suspects in Chan’s ambush were caught by CCTV footage waiting in the area, and the direction they took after the ambush. The investigators would be facing a blank wall for days if there were no CCTV cameras. All they need to do is to find out where there were other CCTV cameras and just keep following the route.

The second lesson is the tendency of the police to impose a news blackout on high profile cases. In the case of the ambush on former Cong. Spine., it is not known if there were CCTV footages on the suspects because after the last press conference (two weeks after the incident), a news blackout was imposed since. Except for the report that the getaway vehicles that contained the high caliber guns were found, nothing else has been heard of about the case from the police. Worse, not even the prosecutor’s office is convinced it has a tight case hence no suspect has been charged in court.

Local media sense that the same trend appears to be happening in Chan’s case. As of this writing, the information on the investigation remains scant. Is another news blackout in the offing?

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SHARP CONTRAST IN GOVERNANCE. This week, we are seeing sharp contrasts in political leadership between Lingayen and Dagupan on tricycle issues.

Lingayen Mayor Pol Bataoil is showing a brand of political leadership with vision and an eye for public safety compared to Dagupan Mayor Brian Lim who’d rather look at what’s politically convenient.

Mr. Bataoil’ decision to enforce the law banning tricycles on the highways showed an exercise on political will in governance. His predecessors since 2007 obviously felt it would be political suicide to enforce the ban on the tricycle/pedicab sector because such a law impacts not only on the livelihood of a big sector but puts a constraint on the mobility of constituents. 

But Mr. Bataoil’s efforts to communicate the problem and the implications of the continued disregard for the law helped negate any perceived political setbacks. His constituents will understand that the ban will save their lives.

In Dagupan, Mayor Lim does not seem to consider to comply with the directive of DILG Sec. Eduardo Año requiring mayors to strictly enforce the law and guidelines banning tricycles on the highways. Instead, we are seeing him supporting POSO chief Rob Erfe-Mejia’s recommendation to change the tricycle franchising policy from two categories to one category which will clearly further compound the problem of regulating the use of highways by tricycles.

The Lim-Erfe-Mejia suggestion only seeks to simplify regulation by franchising while increasing revenues. The move will result in more tricycles plying the streets and highways on a 24-hour basis! Public safety is obviously is farthest from their minds.

In fact, I even find their recommendation hurting the tricycle sector by increasing the franchise fee whether one prefers to operate during the day or night. 

Fortunately, the duo’s recommendation will not come to fruition unless it becomes an ordinance. And let’s hope the city councilors will add the ban on tricycles as an added factor when deliberating the recommendation for a single franchise policy.

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INADVERTENT ERROR: Our front page photo showing police officers destroying seized illegal firecrackers at the PNP headquarters in Lingayen was mistakenly credited to our Willie Lomibao. It was our Nora Dominguez that took the picture. My apologies to both.

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