2000 more police: the solution?

CEBU CITY, Philippines – The recruitment of 2,000 cops solely for Negros Oriental may help “partially” address the spate of killings and violence in that province, Central Visayas’ top cop told a Senate panel on Tuesday, August 27.

But  civilian groups say that the presence and availability of  genuine service of local civilian leaders from the mayors down to the last barrio captain is much better  that the presence of armed policemen which only intimidate the silent majority.

Thus, if local civilian officials are not ready to serve the people via their presence, to whom will the mass of people in the mountains go?  And who are intimidating the people to join mass organizations because the civilian officials are mostly nowhere to be found in the mountains?

Police Regional Office 7 (PRO7) chief Brigadier General Debold Sinas made the suggestion Tuesday  at the Senate inquiry into the Negros killings of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, after some officials of affected communities asked for more police and military presence in their areas.

“I have been suggesting this already when we were asked. Maybe you give us a quota of 2,000 [police] for Negros Oriental alone, so that we can get people there in Negros Oriental who want to defend their own place?” Sinas said.

He noted that Central Visayas has so many cities with even more concerns, so it would be a good idea to have a dedicated recruitment of 2,000 cps for Negros Oriental, given its problem which has become the subject of congressional inquiry.

Hotbed Guihulngan City has 105,000 population, but has only 50 policemen, half of whom go on duty at a given time. Obviously, police presence is an issue here, he admitted. Ideally, Guihulngan citgy should have 210 policemen on a right ratio to citizens.

Sinas, who has seen an upswing in violence, particularly in the provinces of Negros Oriental and Cebu, said he had already raised this suggestion to Malacañang when he was asked for possible solutions to address the violence in Negros island. He said these cops would be assigned to different stations and also join mobile patrols.

Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, the committee chairperson, told Sinas that he would “exhaust” all his powers to make Sinas’ request happen. Dela Rosa is a former Philippine National Police chief.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, who filed the resolution for the conduct of the inquiry, said in response to Sinas’ proposal that the guiding principle should be “quality vs quantity” in terms of police deployment to Negros Oriental.

The need for additional cops came up after Guihulngan City Mayor Carlo Jorge Reyes asked for more police deployed to his city, where there had been a series of killings in July.

Reyes lamented that his city, which has a population of about 105,000, only has a little over 50 cops – far from the 210 cops that should be ideally guarding Guinhulngan.

Sinas corrected this figure, saying there were more than 70 police deployed there.

President Rodrigo Duterte had already ordered more military to be deployed to the island after 4 cops were ambushed in Ayungon town in Negros Oriental on July 18.

In the last week of July, the police and military launched joint operations dubbed “Operation Branstark” to arrest individuals involved in the killing of the cops.

The police said of the 11 cases in Negros Oriental, 4 cases were already considered “solved” by police, while at least 9 had been charged. – Rappler.com