Two senior generals of the Philippine National Police visited Camp Francisco Camacho last Friday afternoon on what they termed as a “Thanksgiving journey”, leaving behind assault rifles and equipment for the island’s police personnel.
The Deputy Chief of Operations, Lt. Gen. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, and the Deputy Chief of Comptrollership, Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Luis Licup, delivered a few words of encouragement to Catanduanes police director Col. Brian Castillo, his officers and camp personnel at the camp last March 5.
They turned over 11 Galil automatic rifles, boxes of 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunition for the Counter Red Area Operation (CRAO) and three sets of audio-video equipment for use in Counter White Area Operation. All local police stations will now have the Israeli-made assault rifles, as their old M16 rifles have been returned to higher headquarters.
They likewise awarded PNP Medals of Merit to Deputy Regional Director for Administration Brig. Gen. Raul Bargamento, his support staff Col. Benigno Guzman, PD Castillo, and San Andres police team leader Lt. Marissa Macabeo for their meritorious accomplishments and overall supervision during the Simultaneous Anti-Criminality Law Enforcement Operations (SACLEO) regarding RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition.
The recent campaign against illegal firearms in the Bicol region netted 137 long and short firearms as well as 14 hand grenades.
According to a source, the Catanduanes police seized a total of seven Cal. 38 pistols, two rifle grenades, three 9mm pistol replicas, and numerous bullets from six persons, including New People’s Army sympathizers, in separate operations covered by search warrants issued by the Regional Trial Court in Virac.
Departing from the usual message, Lt. Gen. Binag instead called to the podium several ranking officers and personnel to discuss their concerns.
The visiting deputy PNP chiefs vowed to look into the case of Region 3 police officers assigned to Catanduanes who wish to be transferred to the mainland to avail of their pass to visit their families, which are often cancelled during the “Ber” months due to inclement weather.
They likewise heard a patrolman express his dismay at the reassignment of mainland-based officers after availing of schooling, preventing the Catanduanes police from fully utilizing their newly-acquired skills.
On the other hand, Lt. Gen. Binag and Brig. Gen. Bargamento assured the local police that beginning this year, the physical fitness inspections and other activities that require the presence of many Catanduanes law enforcers at Camp Ola would be held on the island, saving them the expense for transportation and lodging.
On the other hand, Maj. Danilo Tenerife raised the issue of bullets allocated for each police officer for their annual marksmanship proficiency.
He said that once the 28 bullets allocated for each are consumed at the firing range, it takes a long time for them to be replaced, leaving the cops with no bullets while on duty. There is no gun store on the island, he added, if the police officer wants to buy bullets.
DRDA Bargamento told them to submit their request for replenishment to PD Castillo, who will follow up the same with the region as the marksmanship proficiency ammunition is supposed to be free.
“We understand your situation as I have been assigned before in islands like Guimaras, but it has to be programmed,” DCPNP Binag stated.
On the other hand, he promised to look into the issuance of national police directives which a ranking Catanduanes officer said is not applicable here as the local police should be given ample time, instead of within the day, to submit reports considering some areas as far away from the capital town.
“We will monitor it so that the things you have raised will be addressed by the region,” he said.
The deputy PNP chief also disclosed that the downloading of funds from the regional police offices down to the municipal police stations and mobile force companies has been considerable.
Pointing out that while Catanduanes is peaceful compared to other provinces, its highest focus crime incidence in February was rape, Binag said.
He told them to get involved in barangay development through the Pulis sa Barangay program to make their time more productive.
“Kung may problema sa isang barangay, kung kailangang maghukay, maghukay kayo dun. Kung kailangan, maggawa ng kapilya, kasi wala naman tayong problema sa krimen,” he added. “Ang pulis ay dapat kabahagi ng komunidad.”
He also called on the local police to serve their country and love the PNP service.
For his part, Maj. Gen. Licup announced that the PNP has allocated P9.7 million for the repair of typhoon-damaged police stations in Catanduanes.
He said part of their visit is to check on how the local police is doing as far as the implementation of fiscal reforms implemented by PNP Chief Debold Sinas is concerned.
Each police station now has been given P1,390 per capita as support fund, aside from ISO and intelligence funds including buy-bust money, as a legacy of the PNP Chief.
“Wala na dapat rereklamo na mga clientele na wala tayong bond paper, wala tayong ink, dahil tayo ay fully supported,” Licup stressed.