POLICE Regional Office 2 director, Chief Superintendent Jose Mario M. Espino yesterday credited what he called as ‘4Cs’ in the much improved peace and order condition in Cagayan Valley nowadays and said that now is the best time to visit, live and invest in the region.
Echoing the words of Regional Peace and Order chairman, Isabela Governor Faustino G. Dy III, the official described the ‘4Cs’ as the Continuing Collaborative, Cooperative and Coordinative’ efforts of the RPOC members to transform Cagayan Valley into a more peaceful and bountiful region. The report was released during the Joint National Peace and Order Council and 4th RPOC Cluster Meeting in Davao City.
“Criminality is down because of police visibility and PRO2’s Enhanced Managing of Police Operations strategy, more adept to investigation, more skilled in case build-up and dexterous in law enforcement,” he said.
Espino cited the recent neutralization of the Gener Dunag Group, one of the most notorious highway robbery and gun-for-hire syndicates in Cagayan province following an encounter in Lallo last November 20 which left 6 members of the ring dead following a gunbattle with the police.
He also said there are more successful PRO2 and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency anti-narcotics operations as a result of clearer policies and operational guidelines.
These led to more drug arrests, the surrender of more confessed drug traffickers and users under the PNP Oplan: Tokhang, the rehabilitation of many more and most importantly, the increasing number of Cagayan Valley barangays being declared as ‘drug-free’ and ‘drug-cleared.’
Espino also cited the active role of the Philippine Army in the peace and order campaign in the region. He said this year alone, Army soldiers have arrested top New People’s Army leader Mauricio Sagun and 7 other NPA guerrillas during an operation which resulted in the confiscation of weapons and improvised explosive devices.
The PRO2 director also gave credit to the big support by local government units specifically in setting aside their Peace and Order Council budget to assist indigent clients and help finance the operation of their Regional Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center.
Espino said that the province of Isabela alone has caused the purchase of 200 units of brand-new digital body worn video-audio live streaming, real-time body cameras worth P25 million for use by the PNP, the PDEA, the Philippine Army, Bureau of Fire Protection and other local rescue teams during operations.
They have also been given P10 million by the Isabela local government to help install CCTV cameras in all police stations in the province to help thwart NPA attacks.
Isabela province is aiming to become the second home of the Philippine National Police Academy when it decides to transfer to Maconacon, Isabela from Silang, Cavite, the Journal Group learned.
Last November 20, a gunbattle between Cagayan policemen and members of a notorious robbery-holdup gang in Lallo municipality left 6 heavily-armed suspects dead, Espino said. A 7th suspect was also arrested. Among those killed was the suspected leader of the Gener Dunag Robbery-Holdup Group operating in the 2nd district of Cagayan.
According to Espino, members of the Lallo Municipal Police Station and the 203rd Regional Mobile Force Company set up checkpoints in the area after the suspects held up traders from Lasam town, shooting one of them before fleeing.
At least three truck drivers identified as Ronnie Garcia, a rice hauler from Isabela; Agustin Inay, a coco lumber trader from Sanchez Mira, Cagayan; and Ambot Rabago, a driver of a rice and corn delivery truck from Centeo 1, Lasam were flagged down at gunpoint by the suspects before they and their helpers were stripped of cash and valuables.
Espino said that the victims lost around P296,000 in cash as well as different jewelry pieces and cellphones to the robbers.
The official however said a passerby saw the ongoing robbery-holdup and immediately reported the incident to local barangay officials who in turn informed the police.
Espino said that it turned out that after committing the highway robbery, one of the suspects who were on board a white van shot the right leg of Rabago.
A hot pursuit operation ensued until officers eventually intercepted the white van with plate no. RCK-364 and shot them dead in an ensuing gunbattle.
Recovered from the slain suspects’ possession were one Danao-made KG-9 machine pistol, 3 caliber .45 pistol, a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and several magazines with dozens of live ammunition.
Espino said that the suspects were long being tracked down by the local police for their involvement in a series of robbery-holdup incidents in Pamplona, Cagayan, their most latest victim identified as businesswoman Gloria Bautista, a resident of Bgy. Capalilauan who lost P70,000 in cash, a tablet and a laptop computer to the gunmen last October 26.