Sunday, August 28, 2011

Anti-crime watchdog in Aurora founded by concerned citizens

BALER, Aurora, August 29, 2011-Villagers here have organized an anti-crime watchdog to stem the tide of robberies, holdups and break-ins by lawless elements after the alarming rise in crimes in this capital town which led its own mayor to admit a “reign of terror” among the citizenry.

The group named their organization as the Bantay Bahay at Tahanan or BANTAHAYAN (loosely translated as house and home watch) where their intention is to mobilize people’s participation against street crimes utilizing the social networking site Facebook and other means of communication.

Noli Guerrero, a resident of Guerrero garden compound phase 2 purok 1 of Barangay Buhangin and lead convenor of their group initially has 20 members whose president is noted lawyer Sharon Teh Ylanan.

A day after unidentified men broke inside the service center of the Aurora Electric Cooperative along Gloria St., Barangay Suklayin members of Guerrero’s group gathered during a meeting Wednesday night.

The incident is the fifth known case of break-ins since last month, prompting Mayor Arthur Angara to comment that a “reign of terror” is now gripping the populace over the recent rush of high-profile crimes, particularly robbery-holdup and theft involving large sums of money believed to be orchestrated by a crime syndicate.

Angara admitted that residents of the town no longer feel safe and secure in their homes with the upsurge of these incidents as he expressed disappointment over the failure of the Philippine National Police to solve these crimes.

Guerrero said that the anti-crime watchdog was formulated through Facebook by members of the Aurora Family Community (AFC) which he founded with more than 900 family members province wide.

Guerrero said that one of the activities of their group is to monitor the movements of transients and outsiders. He said that last year, he himself was victimized by robbers who invaded his house and took his laptop and digital  camera in spite of the presence of his pet dogs serving as his “bodyguards.”

Reuel Bitong of Barangay 4 poblacion said that their group is a collective neighborhood crime watch. He said that in previous months, crime incidents used to be isolated but lately, commission of such crimes appears to have become the rule rather than the exception.

Guerrero said that those behind the string of crimes appeared to have mastered their craft in this town. “It appears they have a profile of their would-be victims. They seemed to know the flow of money, where it will be withdrawn and where it will be delivered,” he observed.

Vice Mayor Nelianto “Pilot” Bihasa, who was present during the meeting, expressed suspicion that a big-time syndicate is behind the series of crime incidents in this town.

Bihasa said it was unfortunate that the rush in crimes took place when tourism is booming to unprecedented heights in the town and in the entire province.

“I am just wondering why the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have intelligence networks yet nothing has come out of their investigations into these incidents,” he said.    

In a related development, Mayor Arthur Angara said that he will call a dialogue with the PNP for its failure to arrest the deteriorating peace and order situation.

Earlier, he said he was “totally disgusted” with the performance of the PNP in containing these crimes, which, he said, has frightened Balerianos.

Tuesday’s incident is the latest in a series of heists in this capital town here in Aurora as the smallest municipality as the center of education, trade and commerce.

Last month alone, four robbery-holdup incidents were perpetrated one after another, even victimizing a reporter who lost thousand worth of cash to robbers who barged inside his house. The same reporter lost his laptop to unknown intruders last December 24 in a broad day light last year.

Other victims included a prominent contractor, a former provincial board member and a government employee.

Last year, unidentified men held-up the teller of Western Union and took away P1 million in cash and another P900,000 from Aurora Telecoms personnel and a hardware store owner.

The robbers did not spare Angara’s sister, Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo whose generator was stashed away by unknown suspects.

Angara’s own daughter, Councilor Karen Angara-Ularan, tightened security in her own house when a neighbor got nearly victimized by burglars. Ularan said her move was only a precautionary measure to prevent her family from being victimized.

“My father said that it is a reign of terror but for me is not however it is better to be sure than sorry,” she said.

Back to BANTAHAYAN group, Guerrero said that their board of directors and officers are initially set to have an oath taking this 1st week of September. “After this oath taking, we will open new members subject to the screening of the organization,” Guerrero ended in a phone interview. (Jason de Asis)


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