ROUGH CUTS| The invisible police visibility

THIS REPORT by the Commission on Audit (COA), while not “disastrous” to the previous and current administrations, should not be taken by Davao City officials lightly.

Instead they have to take it with some degree of seriousness as the report is some kind of a “red flag” that should not be ignored.

We are referring to the COA Report the coverage of which includes the last six (6) months of the administration of former mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte. According to the COA it has noted a “slight discrepancy in the city government’s account.”

The audit report on the city government fund management signed by COA Regional Director Roy Ursal cited among the “significant observations” the doubtful validity of year-end balances of inventory accounts totaling P436,563,085.42, the low utilization rate and slow implementation of projects for annual development fund, local risk reduction and disaster management fund, and bottom-up budgeting.

Well, right in the first paragraph of this column we said that the COA report is not “disastrous.” But sadly we found out that it is even more calamitous, as it is ironic, that one observation is the low utilization of funds and slow implementation of projects funded by the budget intended for risk reduction and disaster response management. Imagine a city known to be highly proactive in disaster mitigation and response spending only an 18.17 percent of its emergency funds!

While the report may have only covered the first six months of Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio’s administration and that there was no major disaster that happened during those times, we would still want to assume that the city’s risk reduction and disaster response management people are still wanting in foresight. Or, would it be more appropriate to say that it is our local lawmakers who are in need of binoculars so they may be able to see things that could happen in the not distant yet undeterminable future time should they remain unobservant.

The COA report on the 18.17% utilization by the city of its disaster risk reduction management fund brings to mind an earlier report in the media that the P100 million proposed dredging project of Davao River was slammed flat by the city council. The primary reason of the rejection is that the project seems to be wanting in categorization. That is, the councilors could not agree whether the dredging of the city’s main waterway is for disaster mitigation, response, or preparedness. And added to that divergence in interpretation of terms was perhaps the general perception of the members of the city lawmaking body that the dredging of Davao River to avert major flood is not yet an urgent matter.

Of course other than observations COA also makes recommendations to address whatever findings they have in their auditing work on government entities.

Thus, we are hoping that the city officials from the Executive to the Legislative Departments will take note of the COA recommendations, especially in the aspect of low fund utilization and slow project implementation, and do whatever is necessary.

A repeat of such findings in succeeding audit engagement by the COA could really end up disastrous for the city administration.

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Here is another concern that the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) now under the watch of P/Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum, should immediately look into.

It is a long known fact that the corners of C. Bangoy (Ponciano Reyes st.) and Palma Gil St. are favorite confrontation ground for rival youth gangs. In at least three instances we have personally witnessed together with a friend of ours who operates a nearby eatery, youth gangs that include females fighting and running after each other. Some of them were throwing stones and other hard objects towards their rivals. Good thing that not a single parked or running vehicle was hit by the flying hard objects.

Most establishment owners and simple passers-by in that area, believe that any time soon, there will be a repeat of rival youth gangs confrontation in that same place. They are now wondering whatever happened to the much ballyhooed police visibility strategy to prevent crimes.

They are asking why the DCPO has not posted policemen and auxiliaries in that particular junction if it believes that the mere sight of law enforcers could deter criminals and their “OJTs” from doing their undesirable activities.

Yes, why indeed is there no single policeman or auxiliary making their presence felt or seen? We too, are badly missing them. We are reporting almost seven days a week in our editorial office located in that vicinity and we only see policemen and other uniformed law enforcers every time there are government big shots holding press conferences at a nearby hotel.

We hate to ask this question, but we have to: Why is the police visibility strategy fast becoming invisible in certain strategic areas of the city?

Posted in Opinion