Why Magalong is ‘it’

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Monday, December 30, 2013


IT IS easy to stop here. Avid readers of Sun.Star Baguio will take a look at the picture and will know what we are talking about.

But we will not stop here. That will be a great injustice to the man and the men behind him who have done so much for the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) in the more than two years he sat as the chief of the Police Regional Office-Cordillera (Procor).

An unassuming figure, General Benjamin Magalong, nonetheless, walks into a room and commands respect.

Respect, not just of the force he led, but of officials and media.

He was the most covered man by the Sun.Star Baguio editorial services in 2013, with staff reporters Maria Elena Catajan, JM Agreda, Rubyloida Bitog and Sports and managing editor Roderick Osis, all penning stories of the challenges and achievements of Procor.

But what made the man so compelling to become the man who mattered the most this year?

Here, we give you three reasons:

3. TRANSPARENCY. The introduction of the Geographical Information System (GIS) elicited a lot of doubts and reservations at first. With the common perception technology is not one of the stronger points of the country’s police force, Magalong’s appearance before the Baguio City Council in January to seek funding for the improvement of the Baguio City Police Office’s current Information Technology infrastructure and to help develop a web-based GIS and tracking system was almost a novelty.

Main elements of the GIS includes a map which can be configured and stored with data of hazardous areas; monitor crime incidents; detail responding teams; analyze trends and patterns and generate graphs to be used in crime prevention activities.

Magalong then assured the GIS will help address disparities in reporting crime incidences after several chiefs of Police and station commanders were found manipulating data to portray low crime rates in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

In October, crime incidence in the region dipped by six percent as shown in a recent report by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).

NSCB regional coordinator Benjie Navarro said the drop in crime incidence drop may be attributed to the decrease of crime rates in Baguio City where 68 percent of crime incidents happen in the region.

In terms of crime solution efficiency, Abra was the sole province within CAR which solved more than half of its recorded crimes with a crime solution efficiency rate (CSER) of 54.5 percent reported in the second quarter of the year.

Magalong said the police continues to implement crime validation in their precincts to ensure the quality of data presented through the GISystem-based crime analysis.

Police chiefs and commanders has since been using the GIS with personnel of the Region’s Finest undergoing continuous training to better facilitate the technology. The system, Magalong hoped, will be replicated in other regions in the country.

2. TRUSTWORTHY. Under the leadership of Magalong, the regional police force enjoyed the trust and respect of the people with various awards bestowed on them especially during the later part of 2013.

In August, Procor won the Achievement Unit Award for the highest number of arrests of most wanted persons besting all other regions and national supports units of the Philippine National Police nationwide.

“The arrest of 21 Top Most Wanted Persons (TMWP) with reward, 135 TMWPs and 1,337 other wanted persons is a result of Procor’s intensified implementation of the PNP (Philippine National Police) LOI Manhunt Charlie with intelligence-driven operations on known lairs of wanted criminals,” Magalong said.

“This award is another milestone that makes us proud and inspired to work more and show the difference,” Magalong said congratulating his people for their effort and dedication.

Also during the 112th Police Service Anniversary celebration Achievement Awards in the individual category were given to eight police personnel and non-uniformed personnel of Procor, namely: Sr. Supt. Benjamin Lusad; Police Officer 2 (PO2) Melchor Octaviano; Supt. Lambert Suerte; PO2 Arnel C. Batac; Sr. Inspector Angelito Dangli Jr.; SPO2 Dino Sagayo; Shan-ry Roberts; Elizabeth Cedo.

Different police units were also awarded for their accomplishments: Benguet Provincial Police Office (PPO) for the highest number of arrest of Most Wanted Persons; Abra PPO for the high crime solution efficiency with impact; Apayao PPO for high crime solution efficiency; and Benguet PPO for the disaster rescue and relief operations.

Special Awards were also given to Abra Police Provincial Office, Regional Public Safety Battalion, Regional Intelligence Division, Regional Intelligence Unit-14, Regional Special Operation Task Group-Abra, Special Action Force and 503rd Brigade, Philippine Army for their contribution to the neutralization of Private Armed Groups (PAGs) and in accounting of firearms during the last national election.

Recently, the Cordillera Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC), which was chaired by Magalon, was also awarded as the best in the country.

“We got this award because of the concerted effort of all members of the RLECC. They work hard with dedication in conducting impact programs, projects and activities that contributed immensely to the attainment of peace and order,” Magalong then said.

The RLECC is a coordinating mechanism for all government agencies with a role in formulating law enforcement policies providing inputs and recommendations and enabling the passage of important legislations affecting the country's peace and order, its economy and environment.

Also in December, the PNO conferred on Procor the Performance Governance System-Stage Initiation certification, one of the only two police regional offices in the country to achieve such.

The PNO commended Magalong and the entire regional police for introducing various measure and extensive strategies, particularly the creation of a Strategic Management Performance Unit and a Regional Advisory Council.

Cited as among the best practices of Procor, the panel from the PNP directorate was convinced everything presented met the agency’s expectations in in line with the Transformation Agenda of the present administration.

Procor garnered a 97.44 percent rating, far from the 88 percent rating received by PRO-2, another stage certification recipient.

Panelists who evaluated various police regional offices in the country came from different professions, organizations, the National Police Commission and the National Advisory Council chaired by lawyer Alicia de Lima.

Top national cop Allan Purisima stressed other Police Regional Offices must follow the steps started by Magalong and his police force to serve as guides in all strategies among programs of transformation and reforms in the PNP.

Benguet officials, in November, lauded Magalong for his achievements as well as contributions for peace and development in the province.

Magalong was lauded for being the recipient of the Regional Presidential Lingkod Bayan award and for qualifying as a semi-finalist to the national search for his outstanding work performance.

The Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award is part of the annual Honor Awards Program of the Civil Service Commission recognizing government officials and employees who have displayed outstanding work performance.

“It is undeniable that the outstanding services being provided by the Regional Director, Magalong to the Province of Benguet and to the Cordillera Region as a whole, is admirable and is worthy of emulation and this award is an excellent testimony of his exemplary contribution to the development of our community,” their resolution read.

But perhaps one of Magalong’s finest hour came when he was adopted by Abra as its son.

Magalong was adopted “for his contributions in the peace process transforming Abra from a community of lawlessness and violence to an orderly and peaceful atmosphere conducive for living, working and doing business.”

"The undying hope of the Abrenians for the transformation of untoward incidents that constantly disturbed the peace and order of Abra has inspired the national and provincial governments to address the misfortunate situations. Thus, the conversion process of the peace and order situation in the province has been initiated through more intensified programs of the national and provincial governments through the Philippine National Police," read a resolution passed by the provincial board.

1. COMMITTED. He knew his mandate as he took it. And the man lived it in the years he was in command of the regional police.

With orders to fight gambling, insurgency, illegal logging and drugs, Magalong and the efficient police force swooped down on criminals making the region a more peaceful place to live in.

Even while suffering losses, especially during raids on insurgents, Magalong and Procor’s commitment to peace has not waned. If anything, these losses have further driven the region’s finest to regain concord and work for reconciliation.

When they vowed to keep the peace in Abra during the elections, they were unafraid of reporting vote-buying incidences in the province with Magalong filing complaint with the Commission on Elections.

Continuous dialogues with community members in Abra, an agreement was reached resulting in the taping of gun muzzles of politicians before the May 10 national mid-term elections which was extended to October until after the barangay elections.

Magalong said Abrenians will continue to enjoy peace they are now experiencing if everybody will embrace the change and denounce the culture of violence and dirty politics which has tainted the province’s image over the past two decades where thousands of innocent individuals have risked their lives because of brewing politician conflicts.

Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Governance chairman Pura Sumangil concluded this year’s elections as the most peaceful since 1984.

Governor Eustaquio Bersamin wrote PNP Chief Purisima commending the police and military personnel deployed in the province for being fair and non-partisan in the implementation of their peacekeeping strategies that realized the government’s goal of having secure and free elections.

“With a commitment to peace, we were able to prove [detractors of Abra] wrong. There is no killing fields here,” Magalong then said.

Indeed, Procor revealed itself as an exemplar in the ongoing moral transformation program of the Philippine National Police. Magalong shined but never forgot his men. For a leader could only be as good as his followers.

With the positive transformation already gaining ground, Sun.Star Baguio hopes to cover more inspiring stories of the police force.

And with the leadership of newly-installed chief Isagani Nerez, Procor hogging the limelight, for good reason, we might add, looks promising.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 31, 2013.

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