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Home Opinion Editorial Anti-crime Czar Aquino

Anti-crime Czar Aquino

THE President’s decision to take back direct control of the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime (PCTC) is a superb move. The PCTC was under the Department of Interior and Local Government. With Secretary Jesse Robredo’s hands full with more pressing concerns having to do with coordinating local governments (but not supervising them because he is no longer authorized to by the Local Government Code) and other matters, the President is superlatively correct in assuming supervision over the PCTC.

Besides, it does not seem that Sec. Robredo has gotten over the original plan that the Palace had of giving Undersecretary Rico Puno the Department of Interior and Local Goverment’s function of supervising the Philippine National Police. The public has been told that that very important DILG function is now fully back in Sec. Robredo’s attaché case. But we hear that the people in the National Police Commission and the PNP are not really dealing with Sec. Robredo as their immediate superior, giving that deferential attention to no one else but the President himself.

He signed on April 11 and issued Executive Order No. 35, thereby making himself our country’s Anti-crime Czar. In 2008, an Executive Order of then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo transferred the PCTC to the DILG.

Created in 1999, the PCTC has the mandate to create and carry out a concerted program of action for all law enforcement and intelligence agencies, in collaboration and/or coordination with other relevant government agencies, for the effective prevention and control of transnational crimes in our territory.

President Aquino is moved by all sorts of indications he has been seeing ever since he became president that our country is a major center of transnational-crime activity. Not only have Filipinos become notorious for allowing themselves to work as drug mules, we also have shabu manufacturing laboratories in cities and towns where the police, and we suspect even political, authorities are either the drug lords’ business partners or bribed cooperators. That drug money has been used to elect some lawmakers and other elected officials is a fact. All of these make our country nothing less than a narco-political state. And the situation calls for someone really powerful—and trustworthy—to be in command of the anti-crime machinery of government.

Even the now more frequent and more bloody carjackings, some sources tell The Times, have a transnational aspect to them. It seems some of the carjacked vehicles are shipped out of our country, smuggled to other countries, for waiting buyers.

Then there is the rampant smuggling of virtually everything—oil in bulk and other petroleum products, cars and motorcycles, meats, vegetables, light industrial product components, etc.—which helps stunt our own manufacturing and agricultural capabilities. Smuggling is also a transnational crime.

More heinous is the crime of human trafficking. Our country is also observed to be an origin of both willing and deluded women who end up being sold as prostitutes abroad.

And then there’s the crime of terrorism.

President Aquino said his move would result in “a more efficient, coordinated, collaborative, and synergized effort against organized transnational criminal activity.”

In the last week of January, the Palace was saying there was no need for the President to appoint a national anti-crime czar. This Palace statement was made by

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda was responding to calls made by some sectors, including the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), for an anti-crime czar. The calls were made after the terrorist bombing of a bus in Makati in which five were killed.

In view of a series of violent crimes and the Makati bombing, Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, the CBCP Public Affairs Committee chairman, spoke of the need for the appointment of an anti-crime czar. Another Catholic prelate, Lipa, Batangas, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, however, expressed a contrary opinion. He said what the Palace should do is make the police do their duty of stopping violent crimes.

Sec. Lacierda had said that the President was satisfied with the performance of the country’s security officials and did not see any reason to designate a special anti-crime official.

The spokesman even said, “Believe it or not, the crime volume went down so these is evidence of a decrease in the rate.”

Sec. Lacierda added that as far as the President was concerned the officials tasked with ensuring peace and order, PNP chief Raul Bacalzo who reports to DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo who in turn directly reports to President Aquino, were doing a good job.

The Pilar Pilapil stabbing

Did the criminals who attacked Actress Pilar Pilapil make the President decide to release his executive order that he signed a week before the stabbing?

Whatever it was that made him decide to go ahead and become the nation’s chief crime fighter, his move is welcomed by a nation worried—and fearful—about the increasing criminality in our midst.

President Aquino is not the first to make himself an anti-crime czar. In 2009, then President Arroyo assumed control of the war against illegal drug manufacturing and commerce.

“I will temporarily act as the Czar, or overseer of the war against illegal drugs,” Mrs. Arroyo said while ordering the police to launch “”all-out war, an unyielding and unrelenting war, against illegal drugs and their devil merchants.”

“A country awash with illegal drugs is a country compromised, its law-and-order institutions tainted and corrupted. It is in this context that the government should map out its all-out war (against illegal drugs),” she said.

“No other criminal activity does a better and faster job of tearing apart the social and security fabric of a nation than the trade of illegal drugs,” then President Arroyo said in a statement.

Unfortunately, the Philippines still became a narco-politics state.

We pray President Aquino turns out to be a better anti-crime czar than his predecessor.

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