Saturday July 21, 2018

Biz group alarmed over series of robberies

A LOCAL business group has expressed alarm over the series of robbery hold-up incidents in Bacolod City.

Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said Friday they have been meeting with the local police since last week to discuss peace and order concerns.

He said the police have yet to exert their “full” efforts in intensifying anti-criminality measures.

“They have to reassess their strategies and be three steps ahead,” Carbon said, stressing that peace and order is a vital component of business-enabling environment.

In a span of two days, just this week, at least eight hold-up incidents were reported in the city.

The Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) said they are doing necessary measures to address these crimes.

Senior Superintendent Jack Wanky, acting director of BCPO, earlier said the police are on top of the situation and they are continuously monitoring the whereabouts of the perpetrators for their immediate arrest.

For the business group, the peace and order problem is a community problem.

Carbon, also the regional governor of Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) in Western Visayas and Negros Island, said it is hard to solve the problem without the help of barangay officials, local government units, police force, and private sector.

“We are doing our part, we will continue to do our part," Carbon said, as he further urged fellow businessmen, especially during MassKara Festival, to also be cautious and exert all means to avoid being victims of crimes.

Businesses are advised to strengthen security by installing or making sure that their closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are operational.

“We have to move as one community by helping each other. We have to sell our city well,” Carbon said.

'Step up'

The business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, meanwhile, also recognized the need to step up efforts in maintaining peace and order because Bacolod City is a hub for jobs.

Lawyer Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, executive director of Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communications Technology (BNEFIT), Friday said the crime incidents, particularly robberies targeting employees working at night, are not yet alarming but "we are concerned about the need for more effective peace and order strategy."

On September 27, a male call center agent was robbed by two unidentified men on board a motorcycle in Barangay Granada.

Police reports showed that the victim was on his way home at 5:30 a.m. when one of the assailants threatened him at gunpoint using a .45 caliber pistol and declared a hold-up. His cellular phone taken by the robbers.

BNEFIT said that while this may seem isolated, these unfortunate incidents, however, has caused parents of BPO workers to become concerned about the safety of their children.

Just this week, at least four workers from various call centers operating in the city were victimized, BNEFIT said.

However, the group believed that the city is still relatively peaceful compared to other areas amid the string of hold-up incidents.

Batapa-Sigue pointed out that all cities and municipalities have robbery incidents, not only Bacolod.

The point is, there must be "quick" resolution, including immediate apprehension or detection of the perpetrators' pattern, she said.

“We need proactive measures. We should innovate our system because Bacolod is growing especially for BPO industry," she said, adding that some strategies may not already be relevant to the present situation.

The local ICT Council said investors consider a location using several criteria including talent, infrastructure, cost, and business environment, which covers peace and order.

"It is our hope that our leaders will keep on striving in guaranteeing a safe experience for every person residing and visiting our city," BNEFIT president Levi Trio said.

Nighttime workers, including those in call centers, are urged to follow safety advice coming from our authorities, he added.