ROUGH CUTS| Securing police responders

WE ARE solidly behind the idea brought out by Maj. Ezra Balagtey, public information officer of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), that it would be better if the next chief of the EastMinCom comes from officers who have previous assignments in this southern island of the country.

Yes indeed. Whoever makes the decision of appointing the replacement of former EastMincom commander and now Chief of the AFP Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, should really make sure that the man who will next be at the helm of the command is already familiar with the situation that will come under his jurisdiction. EastMinCom covers the Davao Region, Caraga, parts of Northern Mindanao and North Cotabato.

If he has no idea of the situation in his command coverage it is likely that his effectiveness in addressing the security problem prevailing in his area of assignment will be adversely affected. He will be spending his first few days, weeks, or even months, getting orientation and briefings from his field commanders. He would even need some familiarization visits to the camps of the various operating units under his command.

Of course we are not saying that military commanders from Luzon and the Visayas are non-entities for the EastMinCom commander position. But as Major Balagtey has said, having had previous posting in Mindanao would greatly help the new commander as he may have already some familiarity as to the security situation in this part of the country.

Anyhow, whoever is appointed to head the EastMinCom, we are certain he is given the task because he is seen as one capable officer of the AFP. Hence, he should be welcomed by everybody in the various areas under the command.

And if we may suggest, the new EastMinCom chief should immediately reach out to the local chief executives after he has done the same to his unit commanders.

That way he can be assured of support from the local government units, the people and of course from his men on the ground.

-oOo-

Another shooting incident happened early Saturday morning at the vicinity of a multi-national banana plantation in sitio Banarao, in Tugbok district. It is a remote area where vehicles have to negotiate a downward winding in-between hills road towards the village center.

According to sitio residents the police and Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) did not go to the place where the shooting incident happened in order to conduct initial investigation and for the SOCO to do what is appropriate under the situation.

The police operatives just waited at the barangay hall for the personnel of a local funeral parlor who were tasked to retrieve the body of the slain victim.

We really do not know whether the police still think that the area is under the influence of the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and how massive is their control. However, we are certain that the Bansalan, Davao del Sur incident where a SOCO team sent to the crime scene in a remote barangay in that municipality was ambushed resulting to deaths and injuries of some of the team members.

Well, we give it to the police that it is better to be careful than risk an ambush. But should the Bansalan incident now be made the rule to be followed in the police’s determination whether to respond to calls for assistance when crimes committed resulting to death happened in far-flung areas?

If this is the case, then the police probers will now be relying on hearsay information as to the circumstances on the commission of the crime. How then can the police pin down any suspect, assuming that one is arrested, if his identification is merely based on loose talks?

It seems apparent that resorting to this strategy of not going to the crime scene where the area is believed risky for ambush by rebels, will continue as long as the police leadership will not come up with clear response protocol.

So, may be it is high time for the police to sit down with the military unit operating in areas where certain crime of murder or homicide or others related are committed, to craft an agreement that will allow for an effective police response.

This must be done and done now before the people lose confidence in their police organization.

Posted in Opinion