Bukidnon anti-crime body folds up too soon

MALAYBALAY CITY – Even before it could meet for the first time, the newly created Provincial Anti-Crime and Drug Abuse Force or Task Force Laban sa Krimen“ has now died a natural death.” Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan told Bukidnon News Wednesday he will no longer push through with the project after his appointed task force chair and vice chair declined to accept their appointment.

Calingasan has ordered the creation of the Provincial Anti-crime and Drug Abuse Force or Task Force Laban sa Krimen, according to an executive order dated May 17.

Executive Order No. 44 named Vice Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri Jr. to head the task force whose task is to “investigate, evaluate, review, assess, and gather information to stop illegal activities or crimes
[in the province]”. The governor appointed provincial board member Rogelio Lago as vice chair of the task force.

In a letter on June 2, Zubiri declined the position following a tussle with Lago during the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session on June 1. Zubiri said in his letter that an ordinance is necessary for him and the board members to accept the post to avoid liability for “ultra vires acts” (beyond their authority). Lago wanted the provincial board to defer discussion on the proposed ordinance as they need to act first on Calingasan’s executive order. Nemesio Beltran Jr., provincial board majority leader, told Bukidnon News
there was a verbal tussle that ensued when he told Lago it was not for the board to act on executive orders.

Eventually, Lago expressed he would decline the position. The provincial board suspended discussion on the ordinance. Zubiri declined the following day.

The anti-crime body was tasked to formulate an anti-crime and public safety plan.

Calingasan issued the order 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 incident led to the sacking of the provincial police director, the town’s police chief and 20 of his subordinates.

The task force shall report to the governor and is placed under the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC).

But the governor said he would return the supposed role of the task force to the PPOC.

Calingasan cited in the executive order that the PPOC meets only once in a quarter.

Also named to the task force were 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, and representatives from the public transport, religious, business, labor, and academic sectors.

The provincial police office said in a report that as of May 2011, various forms of illegal gambling exist in the province. However, Supt. Canilo A. Fuentes, deputy director for operations of the provincial police office, told the provincial board there is no jueteng [in Bukidnon]. He also clarified that illegal suertres, which is based on the results of a lottery game sponsored by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, is being carried out via guerrilla-type operations.

But Fuentes admitted that the entire province is “practically affected with the illegal drug problem” with marijuana and methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) as the most abused drugs. He said on top of the list are the cities of Malaybalay and Valencia and eight other towns.

Bukidnon is considered a big producer of marijuana.

Fuentes added that seven crime syndicates are operating in the province.  (Walter I. Balane)

Note: This story also appears on  http://www.mindanews.com



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