In lieu of partisan politics, officials of Barangay Ermita only have themselves to blame for the demolition of their barangay outposts that the local administration said had been useless for its intended purpose and instead allegedly reinforced the control of tanods in the barangay.
Whatever the reason, the dismantling of these outposts should be viewed not as a loss but as an opportunity to prove naysayers and critics wrong. And Barangay Ermita Captain Felicisimo Rupinta echoed this point, though not without overly dramatizing their status as “untrustworthy” in the eyes of Mayor Tomas Osmeña.
That incident in December last year in which Barangay Ermita officials were unable to provide aid to agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in their raid at a shabu tiangge was all the justification needed by the administration to pursue the demolition of the outposts.
There was criticism that some of the outposts were traffic magnets as well, though that is debatable. And though no meeting was held to reconsider the decision to dismantle the outposts, there was no way these structures will stand for very long.
But then again, just how effective are barangay outposts in reducing the crime rate in their area? We go back to that singular though telling incident two years ago when a raid by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on a drug den near City Hall resulted in the arrest of three persons.
That the illegal drug activities occurred just under the nose of Cebu City Hall and a tourist police precinct showed that mere physical presence of a law enforcement unit is no automatic guarantee that it will be a deterrent to criminality.
That then-mayor Michael Rama even considered transferring the tourist police some place else in the wake of the raid showed that if there is no proactive police, or in this case ronda tanod, patrolling the streets, then crime will continue to occur unabated.
In responding to the demolition of these barangay outposts, Rupinta said it was too bad it had to happen because the outposts provided shade and comfort to the tanods who monitored the area for criminal activities.
He also said that with or without the outposts, their tanods will continue to patrol the streets even under the heat of the sun or the cold rain. But it’s not as if the tanods will eventually die from — God forbid, heat stroke or pneumonia if they’re deprived of their outposts.
While government personnel — and tanods and barangay officials are basically government workers since we taxpayers pay for their salaries — should be equipped to perform their tasks, Barangay Ermita workers and officials are not totally inutile when it comes to keeping the peace in their areas of jurisdiction.
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