Espina’s orders: Secret marshals, nosier street copsBy Marlon Ramo, Nathan Melican and Kristine Felise Mangunay
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Deploy secret marshals. “Get married” with barangay officials. Open your ears to local gossip. Keep those patrol car blinkers flashing.
The recently appointed chief of the Metro Manila police has practically spent the week inspecting the different district headquarters and giving out marching orders, some sternly worded while others were quaintly phrased.
Speaking at the Caloocan City police station, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Chief Supt. Leonardo Espina on Friday reminded precinct commanders that they would be immediately relieved of their posts if they fail to prevent major crimes in their areas.
He directed the five district commanders under the NCRPO to put more men on the streets and enhance police visibility. For example, he said, they should keep the blinkers of their patrol cars on at all times so people could easily see them and have a higher “sense of security.”
They can use not-so-visible tactics as well. Espina ordered secret marshals to be deployed in jeepneys, buses, trains, and taxis or at transport terminals to ensure a quick response against criminals.
And to would-be robbers looking for victims in these mass transport systems, Espina said: “If you want to live longer, then stop your (activities). Because if you give us the opportunity to engage you (in a shoot-out), we will do so. We will be more than glad to do it.”
“What is happening now is that most (of the policemen) are just staying in their respective offices waiting for complaints,” Espina noted. “This is very wrong. Be proactive, not reactive. Crimes like killings, car thefts, akyat-bahay (burglaries) and others could have been prevented if our men were out in the field.”
Espina also said policemen should “get married with the barangays (magpapakasal na tayo sa barangay).”
“We will live under the same roof, talk to each other every day and be together every day,” he said in Filipino. “We will share resources with them—vehicles, fuel, funds, food and personnel, among others.”
Recounting his own experience as the former police chief of Marikina City, he said keeping close relations with barangay officials could be a very effective crime prevention strategy.
“These officials know the crime-prone places in the community and where the thugs and the criminals lurk and live. When we receive crime reports, the locals will know where to look for suspects,” Espina said.
Espina said an ideal arrangement would be to form patrol teams composed of barangay watchmen and an equal number of police officers, who would work in three, eight-hour shifts a day.
He said this would enable the police to be at the crime scene within his so-called “two-minute rule.”
“The battle is in the barangays, not in the police stations. Police officers should not be warming their seats inside the station, waiting for crimes to be reported,” he added.
On Tuesday, during a visit to the Eastern Police District headquarters in Pasig City, Espina had another colorful way of putting it:
“Go to the barangay halls. Engage in gossip (makipag-tsismisan kayo) with the barangay captains every day and you will know where the drug pushers are.”