IN order to address any security issues that can possibly spoil the event, members of the 175,000-strong Philippine National Police have launched massive security measure nationwide including the strict enforcement of the law on firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices and the ban on indiscriminate firing to ensure the peaceful celebration of the Christmas and New Year holidays, the PNP leadership told the public yesterday.
PNP chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde, has ordered all police regional offices and national support units to further intensify their crackdown against organized crime groups and arrest the presence of wanted persons and loose firearms to make the streets much safer 24/7.
He also ordered National Capital Region Police Office chief, Director Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar to further step-up their anti-crime and anti-terror campaign in Metro Manila to thwart efforts by any threat and criminal group to hit targets in the metropolis.
Since last Sunday, stepped-up police visibility and preventive patrol operations have been implemented to ensure the safety and security of churchgoers attending the traditional ‘Simbang-Gabi.’
Gen. Albayalde also ordered all police field commanders to personally oversee their security measures in and around churches and to redirect police patrol operations in those areas to maximize police visibility. At the same time, he instructed all mobile patrol units with blinkers to turn them to visibly establish police presence without necessarily creating undue alarm to the public.
Local police units in coordination with barangay authorities are also on the lookout for criminal elements engaged in common street crimes such as robbery, theft, burglary of unattended residences, mugging, swindling and gang wars.
Police have also been ordered to establish Police Assistance Desks (PADs) in places of heavy convergence including shopping malls, bus terminals, airports and seaports and at the same time deploy Road Safety Marshals in major thoroughfares in the country.
On orders of Gen. Albayalde, PNP mobile forces will also patrol control points and areas in the country and assist in the conduct of beat, foot and mobile patrols.
The PNP ‘Ligtas Paskuhan 2018’ likewise called for an intensified patrol operations during the New Year revelries.
Police are also under orders to arrest the illegal manufacture, sale and use of prohibited firecrackers and pyrotechnics nationwide as part of the government’s effort to save lives and limbs.
“The collateral damage of firecrackers is not discounted to include the risk brought about by the illegal discharge of firearms,” said Gen. Albayalde.
The PNP is also watching threats posed by remnants of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Group as well as the New People’s Army in the aftermath of President Duterte’s decision to scrap talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The PNP chief has called on the public to maintain their vigilance this Yuletide Season particularly in reporting the presence of suspicious-looking person, movements and unattended bags and packages in places of huge convergence in the metropolis.
PNP spokesman, Chief Superintendent Benigno B. Durana Jr. said they are also ensuring the 100 percent attendance of all policemen in their respective units and offices and make them available to patrol the streets and further minimize criminality during the yuletide period.
“It is during this time that policemen should be alert and people should see more cops on the streets as it is expected that criminals would go around preying on the public,” Gen. Albayalde said.
The PNP has released the operational guidelines and procedures to be undertaken by the police force in the conduct of security coverage and other public safety services during the yuletide season and inclusive special holidays in coordination with the Department of Health, local government units and other concerned agencies.
The PNP is also taking into consideration the possibility that terrorist groups and other criminals may take advantage of the situation to carry out their nefarious activities.
This coming December 30, the country will be marking the 17th anniversary of the infamous Rizal Day bombings in Metro Manila that killed and wounded scores of people. That terror attack was attributed to the Jemaah Islamiyah and rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas.
Durana said that the PNP will be watching the situation as they may trigger an increase in street crimes, traffic congestion, traffic accidents, the proliferation of illegal firecrackers and pyrotechnics and most notorious of them all, illegal discharge of firearms.