Issue of November 24, 2019
Mt. Province
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Police assure communities are safe from insurgency, terror
by Jane B. Cadalig

Police in Buguias and Mankayan in Benguet have assured their local government unit officials they are doing their best to keep the municipalities free of insurgency and other terroristic activities.

Buguias Chief of Police, Maj. Cleff Vencio, said the police have been aggressive in their anti-insurgency campaign to dissuade residents from being influenced by communist  terrorist groups.

He said the local police through the Police Community Relations (PCR) are making their rounds in the barangays and in the schools, where they prioritize high school students as they are more gullible to the propaganda of rebel groups.

“Aside from the usual crime prevention tips, our PCR has been aggressive in the IEC (information, education, and communication) against insurgency, particularly among high school students,” Vencio said.

Buguias Mayor Ruben Tindaan said insurgency is one of his main concerns since Buguias is bordered by Mountain Province and Ifugao – provinces considered to be influenced by rebels.

He also asked for more police involvement in the activities of the local government unit and in the barangays.

He, however, acknowledged that keeping the town safe and insurgency-free is not only a job of the police and asked for cooperation of the community.

Vencio said the local police are conducting regular visits to the barangays to ensure that residents will not be motivated to join the rebel groups.

“We are doing our best to protect Buguias from insurgency. We are intensifying our presence in the barangays. We are even attending parents and teachers association conferences,” Vencio said.

He added that the police is coordinating its programs with the LGU and is doing its best to be involved in the programs of the local government.

“In fact, the municipal advisory council of Buguias is number one (in Benguet) in terms of functionality, programs, and activities, along with our barangay peacekeeping action teams,” Vencio said.

Buguias residents who were interviewed by the Benguet Provincial Police Office-Technical Working Group (BPPO-TWG) gave positive feedback and good rating to their local police force. The TWG is making their rounds in the province’s 13 police stations to get the assessment of communities of their men and women in uniform and gather recommendations on how the latter could improve their services.

Mankayan’s COP, Maj. Caesar Sab-it, said they are also employing activities to counter insurgency.

“Our approach is more on community engagement since we cannot conduct tactical operations. We go to the barangays, engage every sector, and inform them the techniques employed by ‘the other side’ so that the community would know when they are being lured to join them and eventually avoid these groups,” he said.

Mankayan is bordered by Mountain Province and Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, which is also influenced by the rebels.

Sab-it said groups that have links with rebel groups usually go to the communities, especially in the far-flung areas, as researchers or non-government organizations bringing services to the people, without coordinating with the LGUs and other concerned agencies.

“Legitimate NGOs always coordinate with the government so their activities can be monitored. If they do not coordinate, most probably, they are not legitimate groups,” he said.

Residents of Mankayan who were interviewed by the BPPO-TWG gave their police officers exceptional rating in terms of their performance, community engagement, and involvement in LGU programs, among other things.

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