Police hope for safer New Year

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

IN 2014, Cebu City’s police officials are hoping for greater community support in the fight to prevent crime.

They’ve launched Oplan Joshua, which emphasizes the fact that keeping a city peaceful and orderly is not a duty that falls only on law enforcers and local governments, said Chief Inspector Enrique Belciña.

“The police are the community and the community is the police,” said Belciña, who heads the Police-Community Relations unit of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).

For the past eight months, the number of crimes the CCPO recorded rose to 8,057 compared to last year’s 4,073, based on a report from the Police Regional Office (PRO) in Central Visayas Region.

The rising number of crimes—the increase was 97 percent or nearly double in the last eight months—has pointed out the need to make the most out of community involvement, said Belciña.

Why Joshua?

“Oplan Joshua: Bantay sa Ciudad sa Sugbo” (Watching over the City of Cebu) is a crime prevention program named after a hero in the Old Testament. Joshua, the police officer pointed out, led the Israelite people back to the city of Jericho by destroying its walls without bloodshed. (The Old Testament states Joshua and the Israelites were told to march around the city each day for six days, then seven times on the seventh day, while blowing trumpets, until the walls of Jericho fell.)

“Pareha niya, ato sad lumpagon ang bungbong sa kriminalidad (Like Joshua, we will bring down the walls of crime),” Belciña said.

The lack of personnel and logistical resources points to the need to strengthen the relationship between the police and sectoral groups, such as homeowners’ associations, vendors’ associations and churches, the officer added.

Non-government organizations need to be involved in the fight to prevent crime, insurgency and terrorism, Belciña also said.

“No amount of skillful law enforcement and diligent police work can aid crime prevention without the active participation of everyone,” he said.


The contributions of traditional “force multipliers” like security guards, barangay watchmen and Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams (BPAT) are not enough as criminals get bolder.

Belciña said that Oplan Joshua was the brainchild of Senior Superintendent Noli Romana, director of CCPO, and was planned early this month.

Apart from community involvement, the program also aims to work with different sectoral groups for disaster preparedness and emergency responses.

The pilot area is Carbon Police Station, where there are different sectoral groups such as vendors’ associations.

The program has three phases: preparation, organization and mobilization.

During the first phase, the police conducted an inventory of all sectoral groups, followed by regular seminars.

In the second phase, the police aim to build rapport with leaders of the different groups. They also plan to set standards to make crime reporting easier.

In the final phase, members of the different groups will deploy personnel to areas where crimes are rampant. This will be followed by regular assessments and reports on the groups’ accomplishments.

“They will report illegal activities and crime incidents, which would help us a lot,” Belciña said. He assured the police will support community partners in case they get threatened once they involve themselves in crime prevention. (DSM/Sun.Star Cebu)

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

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