NEW Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group director, Brigadier General Alexander C. Tagum yesterday vowed to maximize their visibility in the highways and the streets to better serve the public and give them the right to earn their moniker ‘Guardian of the Highways.’
“We have to effectively discharge the PNP-HPG mandate to meet or even surpass people’s expectations,” the former Davao City Police Office director from PNP Academy Class 1991 told the Journal Group.
According to the official who succeeded former HPG director, Brig. Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz, he has ordered a stepped-up campaign against car theft, hijacking and highway robbery in the country focusing on targets in their list.
“We are also fully implementing President Duterte’s directive to manage and control the traffic along EDSA,” he said. Promoting road safety and awareness remains one of the new PNP-HPG director’s priorities too as he empowered the National Road Transport/Motorist Sector to become their ‘force multipliers’ for road safety and security.
The official said he has ordered all 17 Regional Highway Patrol Units to intensify their campaign against ‘syndicated and street-level carnappers’ thru the conduct of weekly Enhanced Managing Police Operations or the so-called ‘One-Time, Big-Time’ anti-criminality operations of the police.
He also ordered his men to fully maximize their ‘visitation powers’ under Presidential Decree 1612 in order to strictly supervise and closely monitor 2nd-hand, surplus shops which are believed to be the main source of stolen motor vehicle and motorcycle spare parts and accessories in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and other urban parts of the country.
“We have to ensure that these 2nd-hand stores as well as junk shops won’t be the source of chop-chop vehicle parts and accessories,” he said. Tagum also ordered the checking of imported vehicle auction sites and the free ports to prevent the proliferation of stolen or smuggled motor vehicles and motorbikes and others acquired thru illicit means.
Before, it is common secret that stolen vehicle and motorcycle spare parts can be easily found in 2nd-hand stores in many parts of Banawe, Quezon City; Bangkal, Makati City; Blumentritt in Manila and in Capalangan district in Apalit, Pampanga.
PNP-HPG agents in the past have raided many of these establishments whose owners and operators have turned out to be acting as ‘fences’ for motor vehicle and motorcycle thieves.
Some of these stores with big compounds used to have been identified as places where stolen vehicles and motorcycles are being delivered before being stripped or ‘cannibalized’ of their spare parts and accessories.
The PNP-HPG has been tagged as largely instrumental for a record 60 percent decline on cases of motor vehicle and motorcycle theft from March to September this year.
The biggest decline was recorded in cases of motorcycle theft which registered a 64 percent decline or from 2,210 cases to only 786 during the quarantine period.
Theft of motor vehicles recorded a 60 percent decline or from 240 cases for motor vehicle theft down to only 97 during the pandemic.
Putting the right man on the right job
Tagum said he is bent on placing the most qualified and competent personnel in key HPG positions as part of his effort to put ‘the right man on the right job.’
He added that the move is in consonance with PNP chief, General Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan’s that all members of the police force should be ‘Responsible, Respetado at Disiplinado.’
By putting the right people on the right job, he said that they will be able to match the unit’s need to assign highly-skilled and qualified officers and men in the different regional highway patrol units and the HPG headquarters in Camp Crame.
Tagum said the move is necessary in further professionalizing the PNP and coming up with an HPG staffed with highly capable, credible and effective policemen.
He also assured the public that under his leadership, there will be an honest-to-goodness disciplinary program and that they will prove that ‘nobody is above the law’ when they implement their anti-criminality campaign and internal cleansing program.
Last Friday, Tagum announced the arrest of Master Sergeant Danilo Pacurib, a member of the Station Drug Enforcement Unit of the Quezon City Police District Station 13 after he was caught driving a car stolen at gunpoint in Sta. Rosa City in Laguna in June 2016. The cop who was arrested while driving the stolen Hyundai Sta. Fe is now facing criminal and administrative charges.
No to kotong
Tagum also vowed a much tougher campaign against ‘kotong’ in his unit by strengthening their crackdown against policemen involved in the so-called ‘quota system’ in which operators of illegal terminals and colorum vehicles are required to pay weekly or monthly protection money to some rogue police personnel in exchange for their unhampered activities.
He also said that he will be seeing to it that he will be fully implementing the previous HPG leadership’s anti-graft and corruption campaign thru a very strict policy against the so-called ‘non-appearance’ when it comes to registration of motor vehicles and the use of recovered stolen motor vehicles and motorcycles as well as the illegal practice of converting these vehicles into patrol cars for ‘ikot or extortion’ activities.’
Tagum said he is also very much against the use of confiscated or recovered ‘pasalo’ motor vehicles or those acquired thru the ‘Rent-Sangla’ scheme regardless of their status. “I also abhor the practice of asking ‘reward money’ from owners of recovered motor vehicles,” he added.
The official said he has instructed all his men to immediately report, turnover and account for all confiscated or recovered motor vehicles and motorbikes which are supposed to be put in designated HPG impounding areas.
“I am bent on turning the PNP-HPG into a more people-friendly police unit which will exemplify the tenet of the PNP that is to serve and protect the people,” he said.
Tagum and his officials last week paid a courtesy call on Land Transportation Office chief, Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante to renew their strong partnership in the campaign against motor vehicle and motorcycle theft and at the same time promote road safety in the country.
The official said they discussed the need to further educate Filipino drivers on road nationwide and most importantly, the need to have full coordination between the PNP-HPG and the LTO to ensure the speedy registration of all motor vehicles and motorcycles vis-à-vis the full implementation of all laws and regulations concerning motor vehicles and motorcycles.
Cascolan has ordered the PNP-HPG and the Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group headed by Brig. Gen. Benjamin C. Acorda Jr. to step-up their campaign against police officers and men using ‘hot cars’ including recovered stolen motor vehicles and motorcycles.
The PNP chief also ordered a nationwide inspection and inventory of all motor vehicles impounded as evidence in different police headquarters to prevent their unauthorized use by some erring policemen.
According to PNP spokesman, Colonel Ysmael S. Yu, the PNP chief wants to ensure that policemen will be fully prohibited from using unregistered, recovered, impounded and stolen motor vehicles and motorcycles or even removing any parts or accessories of these vehicles.