Commentary: The barbs and blurbs of Percival Barba
By Danny O. Sagun
Dagupan City (12 November) -- Is Pangasinan really that disordered that its barangay chairmen should be armed to the teeth?
The answer is No if you ask our provincial officials and the police. But to many of us, such program implies there is something wrong with our peace and order situation. Or the police are not dong their job as expected of them.
Sr. Supt. Percival Barba, police provincial director in a press forum organized by the Pangasinan Tri-Media Association last Thursday at the Jollibee branch in Lucao, found himself deluged with unending questions involving the shotguns issued to the barangay heads. All questions raised in that forum practically dwelt on the issue prompting the moderator to urge the mediamen to take on other topics.
Pity for the provincial director-he saw himself lawyering for the province as he tried to parry one question after another. He was not around when the project was conceived and implemented. But now that he is here, he has to toe the line and defend the project although personally he may have some reservations.
"Please look at the advantage, "he pleaded to the newsmen as he noted that most questions dwelt on the negative side. He described as "halos negligible" the two or three incidents of abuse cited by a broadcaster.
With more than 1,300 barangays in Pangasinan, such incidents would look isolated. (Parang totoo naman, ano?) He said that in an organization, an abuse of authority by one or two is expected. "Kahit kami, may nanunutok din" he said that in an organization, he said referring to policemen who abuse their authority despite the fact that at least 10 agencies are watching over them-PLEB, Napolcom, superior police officers, courts, etc.
Since the 'shotguns for barangay captains' program was introduced, he said that the crime volume in Pangasinan went down significantly-from more than 200 to about 150. "I attribute that to the issuance of shotguns to our barangay captains, "he proudly said.
Pangasinan has about 1,950 police members in all, not an ideal number as required by our laws. Police stations may have one vehicle. "Flat pa"-he sarcastically noted, highlighting the lack of equipment in many police stations. The addition of more that 1,300 armed civilians is a big boost to the police, he also said. "Malaking bagay sa amin yan... may katuwang na kami sa maagang pagresponde sa mga tawag ng nangangailangan."
Aside from the barangay captains, other civilians can help in maintaining peace and order. "Pinahahanda ko na yong masterlist ng licensed gun holders and we will group them," he said. "Matuwa tayo pag disiplinado yong licensee, makakatulong yan sa law enforcement. Ang problema lang natin yong undisciplined bearer," he pointed out.
We agree. We'll give him time to prove he's correct. Anyway, the program has just been implemented and Barba has barely warmed his seat. We can only hope that our barangay heads will not be used to harass those whose faces they do not like or those who are in the other side of the political spectrum in the coming elections.
What we want to see during Barba's watch is the resolution of sensational murder cases involving local government officials and politicians. Some case date as far back as the late 80s when snuffing out the life of a mayor, vice-mayor or councilor became a common scene in this big province.
The previous police directors particularly his predecessor failed to come up with a satisfactory resolution of said cases. They were only good at making media statement and nothing concrete afterwards.
Can Barba deliver? We'll see. (PIA-Pangasinan) [top]