Baguio mayor assures peaceful Lent

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Friday, April 11, 2014

BEFORE he left for an official visit to South Korea, Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan said the City Government has prepared simple but meaningful activities for the Holy Week.

This, as he attributed the noted decline in tourist arrivals to the city during Holy Week to the increasing number of destinations in the country.

"Hindi kagaya noon na mas maliit ang mga destinasyon na pinupuntahan ng mga turista," he said.


The city mayor said the local government must ensure tourists have beautiful places to visit, including parks and other religious sites, not only in the city but in adjoining municipalities of La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay.

The mayor said as soon as he arrives, they will convene the City Peace and Order Council to devise a security plan to ensure peace and protect tourists and residents against criminals.

Meantime, Baguio City Police Office acting director Senior Superintendent Rolando Miranda pacified reports of increasing criminality in the Summer Capital assuring heightened police visibility during the Holy Week.

Miranda said more than 1,000 policemen, non-uniformed personnel, and volunteer groups will conduct traffic and crime monitoring activities next week.

More than 400 volunteer communication and emergency assistance groups will join the 603 other policemen and auxiliary on duty next week.

Some 24 police assistance desks with two assigned personnel in each area will be placed in tourism destinations and churches in the city such as Burnham Park, Mines View Park, Botanical Garden, and Wright Park among other destinations.

The BCPO will also field policemen in religious sites including the Baguio Cathedral, Pink Sister’s Convent, St. Vincent’s Parish, and Dominican Hill.

The 32 policemen assigned in the Traffic Management Branch will also be assisted by volunteer groups and non-uniformed personnel with traffic congestion expected and the expected lifting of the Number Coding Scheme in the city next week.

Bus terminals will also be inspected by the police in coordination with the Department of Transportation and Communication tasked to check the roadworthiness of public buses and jeepneys.

He said K-9 dogs will also be randomly used to eliminate any kind of threat and ensure a peaceful observance of the Holy Week in the city.

According to Miranda the activities will start Monday but as early as this weekend, police personnel will be assigned in various terminals to assist travelers arriving in the city and heading home to the provinces.

Meanwhile, Domogan is set to convene the City Peace and Order Council this week following the spate of crimes in the Summer Capital.

Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas issued Administrative Order No. 40 series of 2014 calling for the immediate conduct of a CPOC meeting to discuss a security plan for the Holy Week and address other concerns on criminality and crime prevention.

Domogan said weekly crime statistics presented to him by the BCPO show an increase of crimes against properties. While he said the daily crime average is not as high as previously presented to him by PRO-Cordillera during former BCPO chief Jesus Cambay’s time, it is still alarming.
The discussion at the executive-legislative meeting also focused on the recent shooting of a taxi driver and a city councilor victimized by Bukas Kotse gang members.

The mayor cited the shooting of a taxi driver who died recently at Dagohoy Street. The shooting according to the mayor did not involve robbery stressing no money or valuable items were divested of the victim.
Miranda, meantime, downplayed these and said the local police is relentless in its efforts to preserve peace and order.

Miranda dismissed the Kayang massacre as an isolated incident so with the shooting incident involving the taxi driver.

He also denied problems in crime solving strategy and programs in maintaining peace and order stressing the BCPO has enhanced its police visibility through Barangay Peacekeeping Action teams.

He added crimes statistics are carefully studied to maximize police assistance.

“As far as the BCPO is concerned our patrolling has been revitalized, pinagsama na natin ang line and beat patrolling natin sa mga areas with increased crimes,” he said.

“Crime volume including index and non-index crimes before was high but this March bumaba tayo in terms of crime incidents,” the police official said.

He also said the high incidence of crimes during the months of January and February cannot be directly attributed to the police’s crime solving strategy.

But he stressed crime statistics prove their effective crime busting strategy with the city posting and average of 18 reported crimes per day compared to the 22 crimes per day reported in January and 29 in February.

On the other hand, Mayor Domogan reiterated the lack of a permanent police chief is affecting peace and order in the city.

This as he challenged the Police Regional Office-Cordillera to request higher-ups at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame to immediately send the list of five eligible police offers to take over the vacant spot as BCPO director.

The mayor said the public will have no one to blame but the PNP in the rising crime in the city due to the decreased police visibility in many areas especially in the Central Business District.

He also reiterated what he already said in his letter to PRO-Cordillera regional director to reinstate Cambay despite what Nerez told him the former police chief has already accepted his relief of his post.

Domogan stressed the screening of a new police chief is in order before the public completely loses its trust in the local police including the local government in addressing the peace and order situation in the city.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on April 12, 2014.

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