Shortly before then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte threw his hat in the Presidential derby in 2016, the Davao City Council passed an ordinance making it mandatory for all business establishments to install closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs) to obviate possibilities that they become victims of burglaries and other criminal activities.
The then City mayor is now into his fourth year in office as President of the Republic starting July this year. His daughter incumbent Mayor Inday Sara who succeeded him is also well on her second term as come-backing city executive.
And after all those years we have no idea whether the ordinance has been complied with by all concerned establishments. Of course we hear every now and then of news report saying that certain suspects in burglary cases and other crimes against persons and properties have been pinpointed or the police given leads to the suspects because of the installation of CCTVs on the establishment, or on its vicinity.
Police records however, could not give a clear picture whether CCTVs indeed have helped deterred the commission of the crimes, or simply give the police easier way of identifying the suspects not necessarily causing their immediate arrest.
In other words there is truth to some assumptions that CCTVs installed, or still to be installed in business establishments, specifically those mandated by the local ordinance, are primarily intended not so much as to solve crimes committed but supposedly to prevent commissions of the crimes. That is, as much as possible.
We could remember then mayor Duterte saying matter-of-factly that most of those establishments with installed CCTVs are making the gadgets more of “panakot lang” instead of for its real objective – crime prevention or its immediate solution.
But even if it is for such purpose as assumed correctly by the then mayor and now President, we have to accept the fact that smaller businesses are really hard-up funding for the gadget acquisition even if for “panakot lang” to criminals. Yes, the CCTVs are costly gadgets to help prevent crimes. And if it is to be used for such purpose more effectively, the establishment has to add more warm bodies to man its operation 24/7. Moreover, isn’t adding another employee to monitor what is caught by the cameras and call the police on a 24-hour basis another operational overhead to hurdle?
So what is actually happening now is that for the most number of businesses with installed CCTVs, the gadgets have become more of “aids in crime solution” instead of instrument in crime prevention.
But what is hurting is, recent experiences in the city’s police crime solution efforts show that there are large establishments with CCTVs and personnel regularly monitoring its screens that have made it hard for the police to secure copies of its tapes. We remember one business establishment telling the police it has to seek clearance from their national offices before they could release the tapes to the police. In effect, the solution of the crime committed, especially when it happens only in the vicinity of the business office and not in the company itself, is delayed.
Indeed in this aspect of crime prevention, the “imperialist Manila” notion still rules. In cases like this it is the business sector that is trying to perpetuate the undesirable practice denying the police opportunity to make faster crime solution.
But of course it is a totally different story when the very establishments are the victims of criminal activities. They even give the police some kind of “grease” in cash or kind in addition to immediately turning over their CCTV tapes to fast track the solution of the crime committed against their establishments.
President Rodrigo Duterte, before the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and the constitution of the Transition government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) repeatedly expressed apprehension on reports that some Muslim Filipinos were in certain Middle East countries training and possibly joining the Muslim extremist group ISIS. The President was more concerned that they might come back and apply their newly learned “technology of terror” in their local struggle against the government.
To us there is one hundred percent certainty that this will happen had not the BOL been passed and finally in its early stage of implementation. Let us not forget the recent history of the Moro separatist movement and even the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute attack on Marawi. A reading on the lives of the leaders of these groups, past and present, would show that many of them were schooled and later trained in the arts of combat in countries of the Middle East.
In the case of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf its known founder and leader in many bloody attacks against civilians and government troops, the late Abdurajak Janjalani, trained with the most dreaded of terrorist groups also in the Middle East. So do his co-leaders and successors.
And, if indeed the President got his reports right, then what else can be expected of them should they be able to come back?
Fortunately for the administration, and for Mindanao, there is the dawning of peace in this southern island with the BARMM transition government showing positive signs of attaining the long-desired Moro self-governance.
Hopefully, this would leave nothing for the Moro terrorist training graduates to fight for?
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