Punchline

Crisis, crimes, accidents waiting to happen

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

 

THERE is a health crisis waiting to happen in Dagupan City. And perhaps in other cities?

As one walks on the streets or drive through the city’s streets and side streets, it is easy to see that discipline among residents is sorely wanting.  Could that be the result of the city government’s lack of concern over the poor compliance of residents to the health and safety protocols to beat COVID-19 pandemic?

Commuter jeepneys continue to board passengers without the required face shields. Check out A.B. Fernandez Avenue. Largely unattended children, as young as 4, play on the streets without masks and face shields like a number of their elders. Check out Pantal St., Bonuan District and other outlying barangays.

I guess the unmanned control checkpoints that do not even check if motorists and their passengers have their masks and shields on give the impression that compliance is no longer important.

Is the city government simply waiting to react and respond only when the emergency has occurred, then simply declare a lockdown??

Isn’t there anyone in the city hall who cares about the need to protect residents from the ongoing contagion?

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NO HELMET LAW?  In Urdaneta City, speeding young motorcycle riders in the neighborhood near the wide diversion road seem unperturbed and couldn’t care less if they are not wearing crash helmets when riding through that highway. Nobody cares to stop them. No police officer. Not even a barangay tanod! Not even after a series of accidents have already occurred in the area.  

No wonder, our photojournalist Butch Uka was recently told by a POSO enforcer that arrived with the responding team to look into a recent collision between a tricycle and a motorcycle that the city government prohibits publication of road accidents in the area. Ganun? To cover up lack or absence of law enforcement? 

Worse, the motorcycle riders and tricycles that traverse the highway obviously are obviously not aware of the DILG directive banning them from occupying center lanes. Is it possible that the police station is not aware of that as well?

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HAZARDOUS POLICE CHECKPOINTS. In Malasiqui, the police’s road barriers installed in the middle of the wide highway ostensibly to indicate the presence of a largely unmanned checkpoint pose serious road hazards, particularly at night. While it serves the purpose of forcing vehicles to slow down to allow police to check vehicles passing through, there is no police officer serving that purpose.

Then there’s also the single road barrier installed at a police checkpoint dangerously located on a curve, occupying half of the road fronting the entrance to the Arenas property. All it takes is one speeding vehicle blinded by a light from an oncoming vehicle to cause a deadly collision. Isn’t Deputy Speaker Baby Arenas concerned? A police outpost by the corner would suffice to provide added security for her but why the need for a metal road barrier that poses a road hazard to motorists??

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WANTED: POLICE VISIBILITY IN HIGHWAYS. Police stations in towns and cities in Pangasinan have marked vehicles (motorcycle and cars) to help serve peace and order in the communities.  

But wonder of all wonders, not a single of these vehicles have been spotted along roads and highways to flag down motorcycle riders without crash helmets, or violate the law on use of roads and highways by motorcycles and tricycles. These are only seen when escorting city/town VIPs, motorcades and funeral cortege. Pang PR lang?  

We’ve even read press releases informing public of training of motorcycle-riding cops to chase criminals. How and when could that possibly happen  when they are nowhere seen in highways? Instead, these are conveniently parked by intersections in business districts to monitor flow of traffic.

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HITMEN HAVING A FIELD DAY. The recent shooting of the POSO chief in Calasiao is certainly nothing new to the criminal syndicates, not even to our police stations. It easily happened in the past, it can be made to happen anytime, anywhere to this day.

Hitmen riding in tandem have been having a field day for decades – knowing when to strike, where to hit and where to run. They don’t even try hard to plan a hit. There simply are no serious deterrents installed in and around communities.

Most local governments find nothing useful in investing on CCTV cameras, not even in major intersections. Without police mobile patrols along the highways to intercept highly mobile criminals, targets for assassination are sitting ducks and hitmen wearing crash helmets know their chances of being identified are practically nil.

The police checkpoints today mainly serve the purpose of identifying motorcycle riders on the spot, for proof of ownership and license to ride but the data are not kept nor recorded. To say it is a deterrent and for quick response to crime situations, is another matter.

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POLICE-COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP.  We are not saying that the blame for the weak enforcement of laws lies squarely on our police.  Nothing can be farther from the truth.   

While our police are the enforcers of peace and order laws, the local governments have to provide the logistical support, policy and direction; our courts should seek to validate and support police efforts while the communities must provide the impetus to make their areas peaceful.      

Our police certainly need all the help. But our police stations must also show they have the capacity, the will and determination to protect the citizenry and government by enforcing the laws.

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