National Parks and Development Committee protects our parks; Public must do its share

February 26, 2019

Recently, the Baguio City council proposed a ‘no-romance zone’ at Burnham’s Children’s Park.

Filed by Councilor Joel Alangsab, the proposed ordinance  that has just passed first reading prohibits kissing, petting, necking and lying down together within the premises of the said park, noting that since the place has become a dating site even in the morning, such ‘inappropriate acts are inimical to the welfare and moral of the children visiting the park, hence, it must be regulated.’  Once passed into law, violators will be apprehended and face either fines or community service as penalty.

Over at the Luneta Park or Rizal Park, which of course is a much better known park being the country’s ‘National Park’ where the monument of our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal stands, it’s a totally different story.

National Parks and Development Committee (NPDC)  executive director Penelope Belmonte, the action lady that she is, sees no need to wait for the passage of such ordinance which takes a lot of time having to pass through first, second and third reading before it is finally approved by the mayor’s office and then undergo the required publication, etcetera, etcetera.

Belmonte, well aware of such attempts by risk-takers, is nipping such indecent acts in the bud, warning that those who will be caught will be dealt with accordingly and treated just like other violators of park regulations.

When she opened the park’s Command Center in July last year, Belmonte said the closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras that have been installed in almost every other area of the Rizal Park were put there to closely monitor all movements inside the park premises. Given the numerous high-resolution and high-tech monitors, it became  easier to detect unusual goings-on and even suspicious-looking characters who may be loitering in the park in search of prospective victims, thus averting crimes and ensuring the utmost safety of the park goers.

The warning against those engaging in indecent activities is just a reiteration of one of the prohibitions within the park because while it is already a ‘given’ that such indecent activities that border on sex or even sex itself are banned not only in any park but even other public places as well, there is a need to make this black and white and reiterated from time to time.  Why? Because there are unscrupulous individuals who still and will always attempt at breaking regulations and laws either for the fun of it or because it’s simply in their nature.

So far, the CCTVs have effectively aided the roving security personnel as well as those regularly posted in strategic areas consisting of uniformed and non-uniformed, who are also equipped with hand-held radios for easier and faster response.

Vandals and violators of park regulations are also easily seen and stopped on their tracks, while attempts by criminal elements to lurk in the park for possible prey is also eliminated.  The coverage of the CCTVs is vast that it extends all the way to the Taft Avenue area near the park premises.

In fact, members of the Manila Police District (MPD) who attended the July 2018 inaguration of the said ‘Command Center’  lauded the project, citing how it has  aided them in cases of untoward incidents taking place in areas near the park for nearly a year now.

Belmonte said that with the huge volume of people visiting the park on a daily basis, there is a need to keep the whole area closely monitored, with the safety of promenaders as the foremost concern.

In exchange for this, she appeals for respect and proper decorum on the part of park visitors.  Part of the NPDC’s mandate is to provide fully-developed and well- maintained parks for the Filipinos public’s wholesome recreation and socio-cultural education which will contribute towards the enrichment of the national identity heritage.

Belmonte and her team over at the NPDC are doing everything within their means to meet the requirements of their mandate and they cannot do this without the cooperation of the park-going public. Please, let us do our share.

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