The nation’s Christmas celebrations were generally peaceful this year, according to Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde.
“This year’s Christmas celebration, during the period from December 16 to Dec. 25, 2018 was generally safe and peaceful compared to the same period last year,” Albayalde said in a message sent to reporters on Tuesday, Dec. 25.
The police chief cited that untoward incidents commonly associated with merry-making were down this year. Injuries due to firecrackers decreased by 75 percent since last year. Indiscriminate firing and illegal discharge of firearms have also seen a 70 percent reduction since 2017.
Crime incidents in Metro Manila have also gone down this year. The capital is typically hit by increased crime rates during the holiday season.
The decrease is thanks to the PNP placing the NCRPO on full alert over the Yuletide season, as a measure to ensure that there would not be an increase in crime. ‘Full alert’ is the highest level of readiness in all police offices and units.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Guillermo Eleazar reported that a total of 1,470 local ordinance violators were apprehended for all of Metro Manila from 5 a.m. of December 25, Tuesday, to 5 a.m. of December 26, Wednesday.
However, Albayalde reported that the seizure of illegal firecrackers and pyrotechnics rose by 1,000 percent this year.
A few other incidents, such as a shooting involving a police officer in Metro Manila and an indiscriminate firing case of a barangay kagawad in Central Luzon, still occurred.
“Naging generally peaceful po, walang naging insidente maliban of course doon sa shooting incident sa Caloocan at indiscriminate firing sa Pangasinan (The [celebration] has been generally peaceful and there’s no major incident except of course for a shooting incident in Caloocan and an indiscriminate firing in Pangasinan),” Albayalde said in a separate radio interview.
The Caloocan incident Albayalde referred to involed an off -duty police officer and resulted in the injury of seven individuals. The suspect has since surrendered to the Northern Police District and remains under police custody.
Albayalde cited in his original statement that the PNP’s increased anti-criminality drive and public safety campaign, Ligtas Paskuhan 2018, as a reason for the peaceful holidays. The support and cooperation of Filipinos for the campaign greatly contributed to its success.
Onplan Ligtas Kapaskuhan 2018 was a special program designed to minimize crimes during the holiday season. Albayalde in his statement also reminded anew all police commanders to review the operational guidelines and procedures of the program in order to continue maintaining peace and order. The program even outlines how to best maintain the public safety during the traditional nine-day “Simbang Gabi”.
According to the PNP Chief, all police regional directors are instructed to redirect police patrol operations in order to maximize police visibility around areas of high congregation. Field unit commanders are instructed to deploy mobile patrol units with their blinkers on as a way to establish a police presence and give a sense of secutiry to the public.
Local police units are also reminded to be on the lookout for any criminal elements.