ONLY a few days into his job as officer-in-charge of Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), Senior Superintendent Jack Wanky was greeted by a series of shooting incidents, which killed three people, including a key witness in the robbery-slay of a Chinese national.

Several fatal shootings happened the city in the past year, and Bacolodnons want the cases solved, including the latest ones.

Seems a tough job ahead for the new city police chief who succeeded fellow Igorot Senior Superintendent Flynn Dongbo last Jan. 20, but he is apparently up to the challenge.

A week ago, Wanky formed Oplan Bakbak (Bacolod Kontra Krimen) to beef up patrol operations following the series of shooting incidents as he also asked the support of the public in the anti-criminality campaign of the police.

“All things happen for a reason,” said Wanky as he looks back to how his career in the law enforcement started.

He wanted to be an engineer

Being a policeman was not his first choice. As a child, he wanted to be an engineer, but due to financial constraints he had to give up his dream.

Wanky ended up enrolling in Bachelor of Arts (AB) at St. Louis University in Baguio City. He said he was “undecided” on what to do, that’s why he took AB.

Wanky, who hails from La Trinidad, Benguet, said he was qualified for a college scholarship for Indigenous Peoples, but he lost the privilege after he failed to meet the grade requirements.

He shifted to Commerce, but again he had no money for tuition so he joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) so he could continue his studies.

“If we become an officer, we can get a discount for tuition,” he recalled. “I was a survivor. That was the jump start (of my police training). I became an officer.”

Wanky said he was in the company of ROTC officers who had inclination of joining the army. He eventually took the recruitment examination of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA).

He was 19 then.

“There were five of us in the group, and only two of us passed (the recruitment test),” Wanky said.

He said he never hesitated joining the police force even if it was not his first choice.

“My tuition will be paid, there’s an allowance and I’m assured of a job after I graduate. That’s why I didn’t look back.” he added.

Wanky, 47, graduated from the PNPA in 1992. His first assignment as a junior officer was in Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao.

The fourth of seven children, he was the only boy in the family.

He said that his parents didn’t know he joined the police force because he was “self-supporting.”

When they learned that he will become a policeman, they accepted it, Wanky said.

"Cabbage man"

Living in the mountains as a young boy, Wanky said he also experienced carrying loads of vegetables as his parents were vegetable traders.

He recalled that his father prohibited him from taking heavy loads, but he insisted because he was earned money for the job.

Asked if he was also a “Carrot Man,” Wanky quipped that he was “Cabbage Man.”

Ilonggo by heart

Although Wanky is not from Negros Occidental, his command of the Hiligaynon dialect is impressive.

After all, he married an Ilongga when he was assigned in Western Visayas in 1995. They have three boys.

Though an Igorot by blood, he is an Ilonggo by heart, he said.

Asked if any of his boys wanted to be a policeman, he said, they are not interested.

His sons may not follow his footsteps, but still he can leave a legacy in his chosen path.