Bukidnon gov forms anti-crime body

MALAYBALAY CITY – Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan ordered the creation of the Provincial Anti-crime and Drug Abuse Force dubbed as Task Force Laban sa Krimen, appointing Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. to head it.

Through Executive Order No. 44 issued on May 17, Calingasan named Zubiri to head the said task force, created primarily to “investigate, evaluate, review, assess, and gather information to stop illegal activities or crimes in the province”.

The task force is also tasked to formulate an anti-crime and public safety plan, according to a copy of the order obtained by Bukidnon News from a source at the Capitol.

The task force is mandated to report to the provincial governor and is under the auspices of the Provincial Peace and Order Council, which is chaired by the governor.

Calingasan cited in the executive order that the PPOC, mandated by the Local Government Code to aid the provincial administration to keep the public safe, meets only once in a quarter.

He cited that the provincial government is duty-bound to protect Bukidnon’s residents from “crimes and syndicates such as illegal gambling, drug trafficking, child and women abuse, prostitution, white slavery, and other crimes within its territorial jurisdiction.”

Calingasan appointed an ally from Bukidnon’s northern district, board member Rogelio Lago, to be the task force’s vice chair.

The order enumerated 11 other members of the task force including the provincial chiefs of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Provincial Prosecutor’s Office, National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Land Transportation Office, from the public transportation sector, a representative of the Bishop of Malaybalay to represent the religious sector,  a representative each from the of the business, labor, and academe sectors.

The provincial board has eyed to pass an ordinance lending authorization to members of the board in taking executive functions as provided in the task force.

But sources at the Capitol said the task force might be on the hang at the moment with the reported tussle at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, which showed task force chair appointee Vice Gov. Zubiri and vice chair board member Lago at odds over a legislated authorization for the task force.

The order was issued in the aftermath of the New People’s Army attack early in May of the police station in Malitbog town, where the police were reported to have offered no resistance. The Bukidnon police director, the town’s police chief, and 20 other police personnel have been relieved.

Based on Bukidnon Provincial Police Office’s report as of May 2011, that illegal gambling exist in the province particularly “illegal booties or suertres,” illegal cards game, cara y cruz, and “tari-tari.”

Supt. Canilo A. Fuentes, the BPPO’s deputy director for operations, in his appearance at the provincial board, denied the existence of jueting and clarified that suertres is operated via a guerilla type operation.

He also admitted that the entire province is “practically affected with the illegal drug problem,” which “continues to pose threat to the populace.”

Fuentes reported that Marijuana and Methamphetamine Hydrochloride (shabu) are considered “most abused drugs in the province” especially in the cities of Malaybalay and Valencia and eight other towns.

Bukidnon has been considered a big producer of marijuana. Fuentes also cited seven crime syndicate groups operating in the province.  (Walter I. Balane)

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