Friday, February 7, 2014
Ecija mayor alarmed over spate of murders, tells cops to ‘shape up’
TALAVERA, Nueva Ecija – Mayor Nerivi Santos-Martinez has expressed alarm over the spate of killings in this town and asked the local police force to shape up and solve these crimes.
In a meeting of the local Peace and Order Council (POC), Santos-Martinez said the Philippine National Police (PNP) have yet to solve the killings of five local residents in January as she called on station commander, Superintendent Reynaldo dela Cruz to run after the suspects.
“We cannot afford for Talavera to have an image it is prone to crimes so we have to get to the bottom of this,” she told Dela Cruz.
She said in the scale of one to 10, she is giving dela Cruz a grade of 5 to 6 for his failure to solve these crimes.
Among the unsolved killings were those of two vendors whose bodies were found inside the public cemetery last January 21, the shooting to death of a 71-year-old widower at Zone 5, Pag-asa District last January 18 and the gunslaying of a 62-year-old barangay kagawad in Barangay Mabuhay last January 5.
She said the town is enjoying an investments boom, particularly with the passage of an investments code that offers tax holidays to prospective investors and which promises to generate jobs to the local people.
“We are offering investors 100% tax-free incentive on their first year of operation and 50% tax exemption on the second year. Our efforts at inviting them might go to waste if our crime situation is far from encouraging,” she said.
Dela Cruz, who was barely six months in his post, told newsmen he was not surprised to get a low grade from the mayor owing to the surge in killings. “I expected to have a low rating because the killings took place one after another,” he said.
He said crimes cannot really be prevented and hinted the killing spree appears to be isolated incidents as these occurred only in January.
He clarified that not many crimes in the town were unsolved. “For example, we already have a lead in the killing of the barangay kagawad in Mabuhay as well as the 71-year-old widower in Pag-asa District,” he said.
He said there are other cases where they have filed charges in court against the perpetrators.
Dela Cruz said that in spite of concerns aired over the recent spate of killings, there is no breakdown of law and order in the town and that it remains generally peaceful. He said that since he assumed his post last July, there were only two murder incidents recorded over the past five months before January in this town, which is highly populous with a population of 120,000.
He showed newsmen the town’s crime statistics wherein only 10 murder incidents were recorded the entire year, accounting for less than 10 percent of the 122 crime incidents from January to December 2013.
Other crimes include homicide (two incidents), physical injuries (37), rape (6), robbery (14), theft (36) and carnapping (17).
Included in last year’s 10 murder cases was the shooting of the barangay chairman of Bulak whose relatives, Dela Cruz said, didn’t want to file cases for fear of the suspects who were gun-for-hires.
Dela Cruz attributed their failure to solve some of the murder cases to the fact that the local police force is undermanned. He said they only have 50 policemen manning a population of 120,000, or a ratio of one policeman per 2,000 population.
“This is way, way below the ideal ratio of one policeman per 500 population,” he said.He said to augment the police force, they are tapping the assistance of tanods and other barangay peacekeepers as force multipliers. – Manny Galvez
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