2013: Tough, big year for city’s peacekeepers

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Monday, December 30, 2013

YEAR 2013 was tough, but was a big year as well for peacekeepers of Davao.

The Davao City Police Office’s (DCPO) Oplan Tokhang (Toktok, Hangyo), Taphang (Tapok, Hangyo) or Pakgang; mass protest at Department of Social Welfare and Development 11 office; the rescue of a kidnapped victim from Quezon City; and the twin bombing inside the two malls here.

These are among the exciting news that marked peacekeeping in the city.

Could anyone forget the Oplan Tokhang, a drug eradication campaign of the former DCPO director Sr. Supt. Ronald dela Rosa started in February, wherein the police visited and talked to identified drug pushers?

Because of this drive, the former Association of Barangay Council representative to the City Council and barangay chair of 23-C Mini Forest, Amilbangsa Manding had voluntarily painted an X mark on at least two doors of his house rented by drug pushers.

Manding was earlier castigated by the city Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for failing to curb the rampant illegal drug trade in his area. He has not reported for office towards the middle of the year, and nothing has been heard of Manding since that time.

The DCPO initially planned to spray houses of suspected drug pushers with red paints during their operations, but decided not to push through with the plan, after the Police Regional Office (PRO) cautioned dela Rosa on possible repercussions.

Instead of marking the houses of suspected drug pushers with X, the police visited the houses of the drug pushers and talked to them. The campaign received various citations from different groups.

It was also in February when thousands of Typhoon Pablo survivors broke into the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) office here, affecting traffic and classes on Suazo Street.

The survivors along with other protesters stormed the DSWD regional office, decrying the agency’s failure to distribute 10,000 sacks of rice among the Pablo victims, 6-month extension for the distribution, and alleged corruption of relief funds.

The DSWD 11 only had one guard on duty during that mass protest that allowed protesters to press on and carry the sacks of rice and goods, hauling these off to Suazo Street. The protesters camped out on the street for a week before eventually going home after being assured that their concerns will be attended to.

But that was after Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio ordered DCPO chief dela Rosa a blanket authority “to do whatever needs to be done to end it as soon as possible."

Dela Rosa opted to appeal for sobriety.

The protesters only tone down after their leaders along with the DSWD officers, inked an agreement that provides no charges will be filed against anyone and that agency will provide at least 100 sacks of rice for Typhoon Pablo survivors who joined the protest.

But despite the agreement, the protesters still marched anew from Assumption College of Davao to Sta. Ana police station to demand the release of their two pals--nabbed for allegedly throwing stones and mauling five policemen during the turmoil at the picket.

The mass protest ended after the police released Daniel Pinang, 33, and Conrado Capili, 24, both from Compostela Valley. The City Government also dispatched some four buses for the protesters to go home safe. Such protest made history in Davao Region.

In July, three members of a kidnap-for-ransom group from Metro Manila were killed on C.M. Recto Street here, while another was nabbed after a shootout with the police, in a daring rescue of a businesswoman who was abducted in her office in Quezon City.

READ: 3 kidnappers killed in Davao; businesswoman rescued

The victim, identified as Sally Chua, 51, a businesswoman of Quezon City, was rescued by the Davao police officers inside the Allied Bank-CM Recto branch, while the suspect escorting her was arrested.

On board three brand new Mitsubishi Montero SUVs, the victim and her kidnappers left Manila on July 5 and proceeded to Davao City by land. Chua succeeded to convince her captors to do the payoff of P15 million in the city.

The incident became controversial after the national media questioned how the kidnappers were killed. Nothing came of the questions since the case was forwarded to Quezon City where it rightfully belonged.

The Davao City was also shaken when two improvised bombs exploded inside Cinema 1 of SM City Davao and Cinema 5 of Gaisano Mall of Davao on J.P. Laurel Avenue in Bajada on September 16, when the armed conflict between a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front and government forces in Zamboanga City was raging.

READ: Blasts hit Davao City malls

Police said an explosion rocked SM cinema around 9:03 p.m. followed by another blast inside Gaisano Mall cinema around 9:25 p.m. The second blast left five moviegoers with severe ear pain.

Duterte, in a command conference at the Grand Men Seng Hotel, said the city has been receiving threats for the past few months this year. He said they’re looking at whether the incident is connected to political aspirations, rebellion, interest, revenge, or hatred.

Until now, authorities do not have any suspect. Duterte has even upped the ante in the search for the suspected bombers. He has raised the reward from P2 million to P3 million for information leading the suspects.

Just this month, members of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) headed by the newly-installed director Senior Supt. Vicente Danao Jr. seized around P2.2 million worth of shabu from a woman who was arrested in a buy-bust operation at a dormitory here.

READ: P2.2M shabu seized in Davao

Danao said the suspect Babonsalam Ambung Casser, alias Madam, 30, from Iligan City, is one of the big-time drug pushers whom the city mayor cited during the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency Davao 4th Annual Regional Awards.

Despite those tough challenges that Davao have been through this year, the authorities are very pleased that they were able to do their job as law enforcers and keep the peace and order of the city. They also vowed to curb criminalities here.

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

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