PNP chief: ‘Gentle solutions to all our problems’

January 01, 2019

I’M not a politician but my New Year’s wish is that the Good Lord will grant all our leaders, politicians, security officials, the media and the rest of the country all the wisdom and strength to really transform and for good in 2019.

Enough of too much politicking and religion in this country and all I want is we will have the renewed determination to change this year and be thankful of the blessings we had in 2018. As our good parish priest said in his New Year’s Eve homily, we should all be thankful we are ‘alive and kicking’ while welcoming 2019.

I wish that we can also help address the problems of the government by offering solutions and not merely hitting our leaders left and right. It’s finding the solutions, not the problems typical of many Filipinos nowadays, the so-called brightest of them included.

I wish that as we bade goodbye to 2018, we will learn from our experiences and evaluate what is good for the common people and most importantly, try to offer solutions to the vast problems we are facing.

I’m saying this after a former security official told me the other night that he is already pissed with some people who have made it a habit to denounce President Duterte everyday. The official is not a Duterte supporter and has long retired from government service.

However, he told me in confidence that he knows in particular a bright person who has religiously attacked the former Davao City mayor in Facebook. “Alfred, for that person, our President has done nothing good. Everything about him is bad. But I found out that his brother was fired from a sensitive government post by the President for corruption. Your guess is as good as mine,” the official told me.

Speaking of solutions to the problem, I hope and pray that years from now, Filipinos will finally welcome the New Year watching fireworks in so-called ‘firecracker zones’ and won’t touch deadly firecrackers and pyrotechnics anymore.

As Health Secretary Francisco Duque reported yesterday, they have recorded the “biggest drop” in the number of firecracker-related injuries during the holidays’ and he attributed it to government restrictions combined with the rainy weather over the past days.

DOH records showed that from December 21, 2018 to yesterday, there were 139 recorded firecracker injuries or  a 68-percent drop from the same period last year, which recorded a total of 428 cases.

This is really a history in the making when it comes to reduced fireworks-related injuries and I firmly believe that apart from the unrelenting rains last week and last New Year’s Eve, the 80-percent drop in firecracker-related injuries should be attributed to President Duterte’s  Executive Order No. 28 which restricted the use of firecrackers to community zones.

It’s also good to hear that there was no death reported due to stray bullets or indiscriminate firing during the New Year revelries and I would credit it to the huge effort made by the Philippine National Police headed by General Oscar Albayalde and his men who patrolled the streets and made sure they would be very visible while everybody was celebrating.

The PNP said that that were still cases of stray bullets, indiscriminate firing and use of illegal firecrackers on Monday but yet, it was a generally peaceful situation as the country welcomed Year 2019 with a mild bang unlike in previous years when Metro Manila and other parts of the country literally turned into ‘war zones’ with all kinds of firecrackers being exploded and even used tires being burned in the middle of the strets.

In Metro Manila, I would like to commend NCPRO chief, Director Gilor Eleazar and his 5 District Directors who did not tire in inspecting the preparations of their men even on New Year’s Eve, meaning, they were not with their families when 2019 came.

Veering away from the traditional practice of taping the muzzles of their guns before Christmas, police also showed discipline last Monday evening when no single case of a cop being arrested for indiscriminate firing was recorded. However, police arrested 23 persons including 7 policemen for illegal discharge of firearms during the period. Gen. Albayalde vowed dismissal for the 7 erring police officers.

On a personal note, I wish that the government would impose much bigger fines and even a jail term for Filipinos who violate the anti-littering law, specially those throwing away their trashes in public places like Rizal Park and other public recreational places every Christmas, New Year and other major celebrations. Add to them people who throw cigarette buts, candy wrappers and the like from the windows of their running motor vehicles.

My family and I spent Christmas in Taiwan where we saw very clean streets, parks and other tourist attractions despite the big number of people visiting those areas. It seemed to us that all people there are very disciplined or local and foreigners alike are afraid that CCTV cameras and plainclothes officers will apprehend and throw them to jail once they start littering.

A day after Christmas, I learned that tons of garbage materials again littered Rizal Park, the Quezon City Memorial Park and other public recreational places in the country. This is a proof that Filipinos remain undisciplined even when it comes to taking care of their trashes.

I wish that there would be law that would make littering a tough offense, one which will require a violator a minimum fine of P10,000 or a week’s stay in jail, not community service only. This may sound harsh but this I think will help stop this bad habit.  More CCTV cameras, law enforcement officers and public address systems must also be installed in areas like Rizal Park to warn the public that they are being watched. It’s high time to stop this very embarrassing Filipino practice. As they say, it’s ‘only in the Philippines’ but this can be stopped if we will all cooperate.