IN 2001, I went to Shanghai, China as part of the entourage of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was attending that year’s ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC.
It was my first time in mainland China and I was excited to sight-see Shanghai as it was known as an ‘open city’ and tourists could really enjoy the attractions, the food, the entertainment, the culture, the music and the cheap items one can buy in the city’s popular tiangge market—the Bund.
But aside from these usual features, I was also interested on how the local police maintained peace and order under Communist rule and with so many foreigners gallivanting Shanghai’s streets and business establishments, including the restaurants, nightspots and discos and even one moderately-sized ‘sex shop’ down on the Yan’an Elevated Road in the city’s Changning District just a few minutes’ walk from Sofitel Shanghai Hyland, where I was billeted for my trip to the People’s Republic.
In my sojourns around the city, I kept my eyes open so I could really experience and see what Shanghai had to offer.
And there it was—the city was secured by hundreds of policemen, who were, I presume detailed as much as four uniformed men in every corner of Shanghai’s streets. I call this, real police visibility—true deterrent to crime and an effective way to remind everyone to obey the law.
This also reminded me what the late General Romeo Peña once told me when he was then chief of the Philippine National Police National Capital Region Police Office (PNP-NCRPO). He wanted to effectively address the problem of criminality in Metro Manila and his idea of achieving this was to maintain police visibility. This was further enhanced by a succeeding NCRPO chief, Gen. Dodong Resos, who espoused police ‘feel-ability’ in its stead.
Somehow, I recall the advocacy of both generals in what our PNP Chief, Gen. Camilo Cascolan, is now wanting to do with the national police: To prioritize the welfare of every policeman through the localization of the assignment of police personnel.
Under Section 63 of Republic Act 8551, the law provides that PNP members “with the ranks of Patrolman/woman up to Police Executive Master Sergeant shall be assigned to the city and municipality of their recruitment and/or place of residence or if not possible, to the closest municipality, province or regions to his residence.”
Cascolan rationalized that this program will attain maximum efficiency and more effective law enforcement by prioritizing the welfare of every PNP personnel and reinforcing family solidarity.
Under the program, he said all police officers who will be transferred to other areas will be swapped with other police officers to fill their membership in the unit.
The PNP chief added that some mayors, especially those in Metro Manila, have not understood the localization program but Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP deputy chief for administration, has already explained the matter to the mayors to avoid confusion.