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Peace and stability as key to ASEAN economic growth
Kimberly E. Molitas

HIGH PUBLIC TRUST RATING -- With President Rodrigo Duterte giving full support to the PNP, the national police under Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa has gained high public trust rating and every PNP member is proud to wear the badge ever than before. -- Toti Navales/PNP

 

 
The anticipated integration of the member-state of Association of Southeast Asian Nations has brought a myriad of concerns. Among them are peace and stability in the region, to which the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies play a major role.

The ASEAN was established in 1967 through the Bangkok Declaration with three purposes. Two of these are to promote regional peace and stability and to maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes.

As the Philippines is in full throttle in meeting the objectives of the ASEAN, it is also reinforcing and upgrading security protocols aligned with the requirements of an integrated region.

The PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are currently facing major security and peace and order concerns. Some of these are the conflicts in Mindanao, the longest insurgency issue in Asia involving the New Peoples Army, and drug smuggling in relation to the war against drugs.

Even as the national police enjoys the full support of President Rodrigo Duterte, the PNP leadership under Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa is still challenged with the herculean task of keeping our country peaceful and safe. It is the first time that a Philippine president included in his policies the peace and security agenda. This has steered the PNP towards a more determined campaign against powerful drug lords and criminal groups, knowing fully well that it has the legal and moral support from the President.

PNP trailblazes under

the Duterte government

Owing to the President’s full support to the PNP leadership, the national police force has regained high public trust. More and more citizens are now coming forward to help the PNP in its campaign against criminality and war on drugs through the Oplan: Double Barrel.

The sustained war on drugs through the Double Barrel: Reloaded Project has also helped lower crime rate in the country.

The PNP leadership reported that the institution now has a more disciplined police force while police officers now have better sense of security since they have legal support and protection from the current administration. The President likewise assured that his administration is making sure that the basic need on health, housing, education, and salary of police personnel are being addressed.

With an empowered police force, the PNP is capable to carry out its roles to ensure that the vision and mission of the ASEAN Economic Community are realized.

Like in any ASEAN member-nation, the national police force oversees the security preparations. They have been preparing for this task for over a year now. They have been training their specialized units, conducting simulation drills, doing tabletop exercises, and attending non-stop meetings with their counterparts here and abroad.

Challenges the PNP currently faces

The PNP has risen to the top in just a few months and the greatest challenge now is how to sustain the momentum that it has gained from yesterday’s success. Every day, there are hundreds of threats and criticisms despite their best efforts. Even then, the PNP will stay on top of its duties and responsibilities.

Aside from the war on drugs, the PNP is complementing the AFP in its bid to bring peace and stability in conflict-stricken areas. It is focused on places like southern Mindanao and other areas where rebel atrocities are being reported.

Like Malacañang, the PNP leadership believes that the Philippines is in a better position to compete in the ASEAN integration if there is peace and security throughout the country. Stability is an enabling factor for economic growth.

Peaceful Cordillera as model

to ASEAN regions

Generally speaking, Cordillera is one of the most peaceful regions in the country. It can be a model for the ASEAN member states. Cordillera leaders and their constituents are known for working hard to bring peace, stability, and economic growth in the northern part of the country.

The people’s deep respect for their culture and traditions sets Benguet apart from other provinces in the country. Advocates for peace and development can surely learn a thing or two from the long history of Benguet as a peaceful province.

In the Cordillera, people value their traditions as much as they value their relationships. It is amazing how they keep their culture in tact even as they embrace the changes in the modern world. Here, tribesmen choose the most peaceful ways in resolving issues. This allows them to enjoy an environment rooted on their love for the more important things in life that money cannot buy, such as respect and honor.

Ensuring safety and protection

of foreigners and investors:

As Filipinos move towards building a better nation, issues and concerns are emerging everyday but the PNP is ready to adopt and change its strategies as situations arise. Its long-term plan is to ensure that its organizational mission, “To Serve and Protect,” is met every single day.

Everything that the police force is doing, from its relentless anti-criminality campaign to strengthening public engagement and developing relationship with local and foreign counterparts, is geared towards ensuring the protection of every citizen. Foreigners who want to see, visit or live in the Philippines are accorded the same security assistance from the PNP.

Security protocols were also put in place as the ASEAN member countries have forged legal instruments that protect the welfare of the member-states and their people. In fact, the Philippines is one of the first nations that organized and labored on working on agreements that will ensure peace to achieve economic growth and development in the ASEAN region.

The ASEAN member-countries also address issues on human trafficking.

There are many factors that contribute to the problem on human trafficking. To address this, member nations must continuously work together to strengthen laws, policies, and bilateral agreements. More and more organizations are becoming involved in this issue and we must be able to engage them so that we can put forward changes that can benefit all the ASEAN member countries.

The Philippines likewise hosted the 2nd ASEAN Conference on Working Towards a Cyber Pornography and Cyber Prostitution-Free Southeast Asia on April 2013 in a bid to protect children from unrestricted access to cyber pornography. At the conference in Bohol, ASEAN representatives also cited the need for data banking and documentation to scientifically address the issues.

With President Duterte at the helm, the PNP is confident in carrying out its roles in curbing drug trafficking, commercial crimes, bank fraud, cybercrime, and trafficking in persons. It is also closely working with police forces from ASEAN member nations to monitor and exchange information on emerging militant and radical groups, and take action on other pressing regional security concerns such as international fugitives, cross-border law enforcement, illegal wildlife trade, counterfeit currency syndicates, illegal firearms, smuggling and piracy in the high seas.

(The writer is a police major from Benguet and currently the spokesperson of the Philippine National Police National Capital Region Command. She is the first Filipino policewoman to complete the Hubert Humphrey Fellow in America and cited as one of the “12 Emerging Leaders of Asia” by the Asia Foundation.)

ELEVATED PLOTS -- Under the guidance of BSU-ATBI Director Ruth Diego, more than 50 strawberry farmers at the La Trinidad Incubator Farms have adopted the elevated plots technology to maximize space and increase their yield despite lack of space. Planting upwards, they were also able to minimize crop damage caused by typhoons or drought. -- Hanna Lacsamana

 

 
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