BONTOC, Mountain Province – Col. Leopoldo A. Imbang, Jr., Commanding Officer of the 503rd Brigade of the Philippine Army, assured that Mountain Province is generally peaceful during the 3rd Quarter Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting on October 4, 2017.
For the 3rd Quarter covering the months of July to September, no encounter between the New People’s Army (NPA) and the government forces were reported. However, 67 NPA activities were monitored to include 47 movements, nine encampments, three mass work, three visitations and two food transports.
Despite this, Col. Imbang remarked that the Philippine Army is very determined in addressing threats on peace and order in the province and in the Cordillera region. He firmly believes that the peace and order situation of a place can greatly affect the economic activities of the constituents.
“We are carefully studying how we are going to address more the situation in the western municipalities of Mountain Province, especially that these are boundaries with nearby provinces including Ilocos Sur, Benguet, Abra and Kalinga,” Col. Imbang added as he solicited the support and cooperation of the local government units (LGUs) and the community.
In a separate interview, Governor Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr., who also chairs the PPOC, expressed optimism that Mountain Province will always be a peaceful place to live in.
He mentioned that aside from the beautiful sceneries, natural wonders and cultural practices that Mountain Province has to offer, local and foreign tourists visit the province because they know they are safe and secure.
The governor also calls on the brothers who are still in the mountains to lay down their arms, return to their communities, live a normal life and be with their parents and family.
Being a partner of the national government in this endeavour, the provincial government sustained the Provincial Livelihood Program for Rebel Returnees since its inception in 2011.
The program opened its door to NPA combatants from Mountain Province willing to start a new life. With the financial aid of P5, 000.00 per month in exchange for community service they will render in their respective barangays, it is hoped that they will transform themselves as a group to help sustain the peace and development efforts in the province.
Meanwhile, as to the crime situation, the Mountain Province Police Provincial Office (MPPPO) reported a significant decrease of 54% in crime volume in province during the same council meeting.
PSSupt. Tellio C. Ngis-o, Provincial Director of the MPPPO reported their office recorded a crime volume of 201 from the period of January to September this year as compared to last year’s 435 recorded crime on the same period.
PNP records show that index crime volume decreased by 38% while non index crime volume dropped by 59%. A total of 67 index crimes were recorded from January to September 2017, compared to 108 cases last year on a similar period. Non-index crime volume fell by 59%, from last year’s 327 cases to this year’s 134.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) classifies as murder, homicide, physical injury, rape, robbery, theft, carnapping, and cattle rustling under index crimes.
Non-index crimes, on the other hand are violations of special laws such as Violence Against Women and children (VAWC), illegal logging and/ or local ordinances.
Ngis-o believed that police visibility is very effective in enhancing crime prevention and in ensuring public safety.
“In line with the programs of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, the PNP has intensified police operations against illegal activities,” he said.
By Alpine L. Killa and Erwin S. Batnag