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Rough Cuts | Enhancing checkpoints services

We are certain many political observers in Davao City will agree with us that there was a time when first district councilor Mabel Sunga Acosta fell out of grace of one of the local political gods. As a consequence during that year’s local election her name was ordered stricken out of the official line-up of the administration party.

Her good performance though in the many years that she had been councilor helped her through. So, she still landed in the winning circle among the candidates for the council in the first district declared official, or claimed to be with the local administration.

However, after the winners in that year’s election for councilors were sworn in, it was clear that she remained out of the graces of the political god that she had squared off in principle. Councilor Mabel was given the chairmanship of one, if not the most insignificant committees of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, the Committee on Information.

In the local elections last year, again councilor Acosta won with flying colors. But her being an “outcast” during the preceding term appeared to have remained. This can be gleaned from the chairmanship given her.

Mabel ended up chair of the City Council Committee on Public Safety.

In the past many Council since that committee was created, it was always chaired by a male councilor. It is kind of tradition since the committee is tasked to craft ordinances and other policies that would ensure the safety and security of the city and its people. And it is one line of job that traditionally, has been under the domain of men.

But like in her previous committee assignments, we have noted that the lady councilor of the first district made her work as chair a career laced with professionalism. Her passion for her work as chair of the Information Committee, and as head of the Public Safety body in the present council, shows no signs of bitterness for the treatment she got from her party. In everything she did and is planning to do to produce quality legislations Councilor Mabel puts the best of her ability.

Who would ever think that in her chairmanship of the current council Committee on Public Safety she would think of institutionalizing the existing checkpoints in the city like the ones in Lacson, in Sirawan, and in Lasang? These three major checkpoints are the city’s main security wall against the entry of lawless elements out to create terroristic or criminal activities in Davao City.

The Public Safety Committee lady chair is presently working on making the checkpoints not only permanent in its locations but also put these in better structures and install with sophisticated detection equipment.
Yes, in an interview with members of the local media last week councilor Acosta said she believes that to make the checkpoints effective in identifying potential threats to the city coming from other areas in the south, southwest and the north, the tedious process of manually checking baggage, bags, and other cargoes must have to give way to a more faster and better detecting process.

The councilor said she is proposing for the city to set aside a budget to institutionalize the checkpoints. She added that it might be beneficial for Davao City to equip the three main checkpoints with x-ray machines that can scan baggage and other belongings, as well as the passengers of motor vehicles coming to the city.

We submit that this proposal of the lady councilor is very novel and is likely to ensure the safety and security of Davao City from potential threats.

In fact it is our take that the proposition is being borne out of her passion to do what she thinks is best for the city and its people. And imagine that such idea would come from a woman who hails from a family of lawyers and educators and not from a family of policemen and military personnel!

In other words, councilor Mabel must have been “burning her midnight candle” searching for a better and effective way to discharge her duty as chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee.

We have no doubt that Councilor Mabel has the capability to persuade her colleagues and even the mayor herself into supporting her proposal. And considering that what is at stake here is the security of the entire city and its people it would not be surprising if her plan gets through.

Nevertheless, we cannot help but entertain some doubts as to the effectiveness and acceptability of the installation of x-ray machines at the city’s main checkpoints.

Perhaps in the committee deliberations of the proposal these questions must be raised and categorically answered:

What will be the x-ray machines that will be installed? Will these be the kind installed at the airports where passengers’ baggage passes through for scanning? Will there be separate x-ray machine for carry-on baggage and another for the passengers?

Assuming that this is the plan and the city will provide the money to purchase the x-ray machines and pay for the installation cost, we can still see the humongous inconvenience the entire process of going through the inspection.

Will the baggage of bus and other motor vehicle passengers be unloaded at the checkpoint and have it passed through the machine? Of course the unloaded baggage will have to be loaded again. In this process alone how much time, effort and manpower requirement are needed?

It will however be a totally different story if the city will purchase x-ray machines of the type used by the Bureau of Customs in container ports where the entire vehicle and the van can be accommodated in the x-ray equipment and scanned at the same time.

As we said, the proposal is novel as it is ideal. But we believe that for checkpoint purposes such is not only inconvenient but is impractical. It could be very costly as well.

But we fully agree that there is need to provide better and less intimidating experience for passengers upon reaching the city’s main checkpoints.

How? Mabel can easily think of ways other than letting passengers and their baggage go through x-ray procedures.

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