Espinoza: Paper tiger city ordinances?

Free Zone
Espinoza Free Zone
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After the recent robbery in Cebu City, a city official is up on his feet and wants a review of the city ordinances that mandate security measures for all business establishments, particularly banks and pawnshops, and to find out if these ordinances are complied with.

Cebu City Councilor Phillip Zafra, chairman of the council’s committee on peace and order, issued the statement after the bold robbery on Saturday morning of a pawnshop and jewelry store in Colon Street, Cebu City. The robbery was done in less than five minutes as seen on closed-circuit television camera.

Zafra said it is high time to revisit the ordinances implementing security parameters among business establishments to ensure that these are properly observed. He said they will meet with the Philippine Association of Detective & Protective Agency Operators or Padpao and heads of security of establishments to discuss this matter.

One of the city ordinances that Zafra emphasized is the installation of alarm devices in all establishments, particularly banks and pawnshops.

Zafra also took notice that some gasoline stations are without security personnel.

The local legislator said amendments to these ordinances may be made to provide stiffer penalties to ensure compliance.

Well, a knee-jerk reaction from city officials on issues like this is not unusual though.

According to Zafra, following the robbery, Mayor Michael Rama immediately called for a “Zoom meeting” with all the police station commanders and the chief of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).

Mayor Rama, who is back from a month-long vacation in Australia, in a press conference he called on Tuesday, took full responsibility for the recent crime incidents. Mayor Rama also enlisted the help of retired Army major general Mel Feliciano on security matters for the city, which Feliciano accepted without hesitation.

Well, Mayor Rama, whose critics and opponents in politics have been “looking” for him on social media, is now back in Cebu. His absence on official leave though could be not be the reason that the criminals took advantage. The City Government was in good hands when Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin N. Garcia took the reins while the city mayor took a breather in “The Land Down Under.”

It is a legal precept that laws or ordinances are crafted, passed and approved for the greater good. Meaning, for everybody’s benefit and welfare. For ordinances to be effective and obligate compliance, they must carry imposable fines and penalties. The problem, however, is the utter lackadaisical enforcement of the ordinances, which could also be true to some national laws.

It may be recalled that in September last year, the CCPO vowed to implement all of the Cebu City ordinances, notably the one on the city government’s Oplan Disiplina program. It sounds amusing, but certainly not funny, that our police would selectively implement the city ordinances.

According to Zafra, they received countless requests for additional police visibility in different areas of the city, but there are not enough policemen. But don’t the police have patrol cars?

On the other hand, politics should be outside of the ambit in the strict enforcement of city ordinances. One of the reasons that a city ordinance is perhaps not implemented accordingly and just dies a natural death is that some things are being protected by those who possess power and influence.

And as to why some pawnshops, banks and other establishment have not complied with the mandate of a city ordinance to put up CCTVs or alarm devices, it is only the implementors of the Cebu City Government who know the answer.

These ordinances that Councilor Zafra gave emphasis to could just be another paper tiger if not enforced to the letter.

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