I had a meaningful conversation with Dr. Manny Jaudian, past president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) recently about reports of the crime situation in Cagayan de Oro City. For more of our conversation, check my July 26, 10 am to 11 pm broadcast of ‘Susan Palmes Dennis Live’ at the Facebook page of RPN-dxKO Cagayan de Oro.
Specifically our virtual online conversation centered on a proposal by Mayor Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy to augment the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (COCPO) with so-called Oro auxiliary teams of 20 members each for every police precinct. Anyone who’s lived long enough in the City of Golden Friendship knows that the city police’s personnel at roughly over 600 isn’t sufficient to cover the entire city population. And Dr. Jaudian himself said there’s no significant crime wave occurring in the city.
If anything, the noise is being created by netizens, a lot of whom are supposedly not even from Cagayan de Oro City but are said to be paid trolls. As a criminologist who trained police officers, Dr. Jaudian cited the obvious solution of increased police visibility as a deterrent to criminal elements. Dr. Jaudian noted a boom in drinking binges and crowded nightspots after the city sustained an Alert Level 1 status which eased health protocol restrictions.
When I mentioned about the Oro police auxiliary teams, Dr. Jaudian shared my reservations about the mayor’s plans. Due to inadequate or lack of training on police procedures, Dr. Jaudian said the auxiliary members may not be disciplined and even adopt the ‘LSP (labaw sa police or higher than the police)’ mentality. ‘That mindset is dangerous…the rationale may be laudable but I don’t agree with it,’ Dr. Jaudian said.
In fact, Dr. Jaudian said the city police chief, Col. Aaron Mandia, should have pointed to the pros and cons of such an arrangement which may cause more problems even if the teams are under direct police supervision. That the members will be sourced from the job order employees and contractual workers of City Hall presents another layer of complication which the most jaded of armchair political analysts can see with eyes half-closed.
The question as to the length or how long these auxiliary members need to be trained to qualify as backup—they are backup after all—to the police is also subject to evaluation as Dr. Jaudian pointed out to me. But personally, I see this auxiliary team setup as a means to provide employment to the job order and contractual workers, quite a number of whom are set to end their contracts by July 31. From what I heard, former mayor Oscar Moreno negotiated with Klarex to extend their contracts to Dec. 31 but talks fell through.
By that time, these ‘Tom Jules’ (taman sa July as Mayor Klarex agreed to extend their contracts by end of July instead of end of June) will return to their mother units and even then, their status would either be ‘frozen or static’ or not renewed. Or, they could be reassigned someplace remote, like the motorpool or in a mountain barangay. With the auxiliary teams, Mayor Klarex can reassign some of these ‘Tom Jules’ to augment the city police.
As to how they will perform and who gets to evaluate their performance is something Col. Mandia is tasked to do. If left unchecked to their devices, these additional personnel may become a liability instead of an asset to the Klarex administration. Dr. Jaudian said Mayor Klarex should consider tapping the criminology students to augment the police as part of their training to become police officers. Which to me sounds logical enough.
I hope for Mayor Klarex’s sake since I do wish him and his administration to succeed that there will be sufficient safeguards and checks in place to monitor and discipline these auxiliary team members so they can perform the tasks the mayor mandated them to perform. Dr. Jaudian’s suggestion is sound and if there are more of these good ideas, then the mayor should be open and willing enough to evaluate and decide if they can be feasible enough to implement.