BARELY three months since he assumed as chief of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Nocppo) specifically on January 7, Police Senior Superintendent Romeo A. Balero shared his journey as the peacekeeper of Negros Occidental.
Negros is a very peaceful province. Although there were reported isolated crime incidents particularly the shooting incidents that transpired during the election period but generally, the province of Negros Occidental is very peaceful and livable province.
This province is one of the progressive provinces in Western Visayas and in the country being a sugar producing province that supplies sugar not only in the Philippines but in some parts of the world as well.
“As your Provincial Philippine National Police (PNP) director, I have to protect the people of Negros especially those who live in the far-flung areas who are usually victims of atrocities by the New People's Army. But with the presence of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police(PNP), we were able to control the movement and activities of the enemies of the state. That is why, we assured the people from the countryside that they are safe and secured and we have enough resources in terms of mobility and power to maintain the peace and order in the province of Negros Occidental,” Baleros said.
“And I have observed that most of our Local Government Units, especially the mayors, are very supportive with our local police. They provide intelligence funds for our anti-drug operations, mobility and gasoline. They take care of our PNP personnel assigned in police stations. And in the level of the provincial headquarters, our provincial government is also very supportive in terms of our operational and administrative requirements. They provide us with office supplies, oil and lubricants, so there is no reason for us not to deliver good service to Negrenses,” he said.
Police Senior Superintendent Baleros says: “The challenges here is how can we confront drug problems because until now, despite the stern warnings coming from President Rodrigo R. Duterte and with numerous operations that resulted to the arrest of suspected drug personalities in the province, but still this (the drug problem) is the very challenge to the Nocppo. We have to attain the aspirations of our President to clear or to have a drug-free Philippines before he steps down from power. That is why, as the implementing arm of the government in the fight against illegal drugs, we are very serious about it. That is why, for my almost three months stay here as Nocppo director, we have neutralized identified big-time drug traffickers and even the possessors of undocumented or loose firearms. We have arrested more than a hundred suspects and confiscated more than a hundred firearms without licenses.”
Marching order for 2019 polls
Police Senior Superintendent Baleros directed all the PNP officers and personnel to stay apolitical, neutral and fair because those were the clear instructions of the President during their Command Conference held on Wednesday, May 8.
“His instructions were the PNP and the AFP must be neutral. Our role is to maintain peace and order, secure our electorates and see to it that all voters can cast their votes without intimidation and fear. Let the electorates choose who will be the next leader in their respective municipalities, cities and districts,” he said.
Furthermore, they are closely watching the town of Moises Padilla since it was placed under the control of the Commission on Election.
He said that before and since the start of the campaign period, they already recommended Moises Padilla to be placed under the red category which means there is a need for the AFP to deploy personnel in the area to prevent any incident related to election because the area is under the operational jurisdiction of the Central Negros Front of the NPA and also there were reports of armed group roaming around the area of Moises Padilla that is why they deployed maximum number of security personnel both the AFP and the PNP to ensure that killings in the area of Moises Padilla will not happen again.
But all LGUs are under intense monitoring because they already received reports or incidence of vote-buying.
“Our personnel on the ground are monitoring and validating these reports and whoever is arrested by our PNP personnel, the full force of the law will be applied against them,” he said.
Baleros said it’s difficult to be police director but he should be flexible on how to manage his people, how to confront, assess and address problems.
Baleros has smart staff that helps him do the planning. They conduct brainstorming and do the risk and task assessment in relation to election including other activities that would affect the peaceful holding of the May 13 election.
Dealing with bad eggs in PNP
Baleros said they don’t tolerate any PNP personnel who are engaging in any form of illegal activity particularly illegal drugs.
One time, they arrested one personnel but he was not assigned in Nocppo. He was a PNP personnel of the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO). He was arrested by the Cauayan Police Station for poking his gun to a young person. They filed charges against him.
“So we do not tolerate this activity and if every time we receive information about the wrongdoings of our personnel, we immediately conduct investigation against them,” he said.
Message to the electorate
“I am appealing to the people of Negros Occidental especially to our electorate, you go out from your areas and vote on time. You are given a chance to choose a good leader for the next three years. You can vote securely and safely,” Baleros said.
“The PNP and AFP are deployed throughout the province to ensure your safety. We will not allow anyone or any group to intimidate or coerce you just to vote for their candidates. We are giving you free hand to choose whoever you wanted to vote. And for the candidates, you know, you are aware about the Commission on Elections rules and regulations, so any violation of the Omnibus Election Code, the full force of the law will be applied against you,” he said.
“Just convince your supporters to maintain calmness and do not use force or firearms just to get the votes of the electorates. I am enjoining everyone to go out of your houses and vote on your respective polling precinct. The PNP of Negros Occidental is on top of the situation. We are ready to provide everything and ensure the safety of the electorates and secure the polling precincts. We will use our resources to maintain the May 13 national and local elections safe, credible and free from any untoward incident. We are here to protect you,” he added.