By Jennifer P. Rendon
Just like in previous years, Western Visayans observed the Holy Week peacefully.
There were generally lesser crimes, Police Regional Office (PRO) 6 director Brigadier General Leo Francisco said.
With the expected revenge travel, thousands flocked to different travel destinations in the region.
But with things getting back to pre-pandemic tone, Western Visayas recorded a big dip in the number of eight focus crimes – murder, homicide, rape, physical injury, robbery, theft, motor vehicle theft, and motorcycle theft.
Since Holy Monday and until Black Saturday, PRO-6 only logged 23 incidents, or 52.08 percent lower than last year’s 48 incidents.
But relative to the overall crime volume, Western Visayas registered a slight increase of 1.83 percent from April 3 to April 8. From 273 incidents in 2022, it went up to 278 this year.
But Francisco noted that the increase in the crime volume was due to more non-index crimes, or violations of special laws such as Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002), RA 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act), illegal gambling, and the likes.
“There were more police operations leading to and during the Holy Week,” he said.
So far, police only recorded one major incident: the accident that claimed the life of an Ati chieftain in Boracay Island in Aklan on April 5.
“But that was something beyond our control,” he said.
Meanwhile, to thwart other crimes from happening, Francisco said they increased police presence on all fronts.
“The decisive interventions and collective efforts of all line units through the effective implementation of the operational concepts focused on EMPO strategies contributed to the peaceful observance of the Holy Week,” he said.
EMPO or the Enhanced Managing Police Operations widens the anti-criminality operational plan on regular law enforcement activities through police presence and focused operations; security measures through target hardening, and border controls.
Through EMPO, police will also strengthen their social investigation, through maximum use of quad media in intensifying public awareness, contingency planning through regular conduct of SIMEX, CEREX, and COMMEX; organization of red teams to challenge security preparations, feedback mechanism and offensive silence through tactical operations.
Francisco said it also helped that they did a strategic deployment of 2,649 PNP personnel and mobilization of 2,491 augmentation units from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG, other advocacy groups and force multipliers.
They were deployed in churches, pilgrim sites, terminals, tourist destinations, vital installations, and other places of convergence to ensure the safety of tourists and the general public.
Francisco said they had also conducted Red Teaming Operations/inspections in tourist destinations, churches and other places of convergence including the deployment of personnel and resources to ensure the operational readiness of personnel on the ground.
He also cited that coordination was done with the managers/owners of resorts, beaches, and other establishments.
PRO-6 also took into consideration the provision of traffic assistance in major thoroughfares and other areas with ongoing road construction/rehabilitation.
Coordination was also done with Local Government Units (LGUs) and other concerned law enforcement agencies to prevent the occurrence of crimes.
“We have also intensified our intelligence, counter-intelligence, and police operations to preempt/prevent terrorist activities,” he said.
But aside from the commitment of police units and other government agencies, Francisco has lauded the public for their commitment to peace and order.