GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/01 December) – Police authorities in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao have stepped up their security operations in preparation for the Christmas celebration in the area.
Chief Supt. Gil Meneses, Region 12 police director, said Wednesday he placed all their units under heightened alert to ensure a peaceful and orderly Christmas and New Year celebrations within the region.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
“We’re already on alert for the (Christmas) season so everyone should expect our checkpoints to be more frequent and strict,” the police official said.
As part of their security plan for the Christmas season, he said they doubled their presence in public places and various strategic areas such as churches, shopping malls, airports, seaports, bus terminals, major highways and local resorts.
He said they assigned the regional police’s public safety battalions and companies to augment the security operations of the provincial, city and municipal police stations and offices.
In Koronadal City, he said they deployed additional policemen in the area to secure the city’s hosting of various Christmas-related festivities.
Aside from the intensified security operations, the police official said they have stepped up their monitoring against the selling and use of illegal fireworks and firecrackers in the region.
He said they have already started to monitor the entry of firecrackers and fireworks which used to come from as far as Central Luzon and Western Visayas.
Based on a previous directive issued by the Philippine National Police, police personnel were authorized to clear the streets of firecrackers and pyrotechnics vendors who sell illegal types of materials.
Three years ago, the city government here and nearby Koronadal City imposed a ban on firecrackers and fireworks in the city due to the persistent bomb threats then.
Such order was also an offshoot of the ban imposed by the cities of Cotabato and General Santos that successfully pulled down the number of injuries during the Christmas and New Year’s Eve revelries in both areas.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was the first chief executive to impose a firecracker ban several years ago that turned out to be very effective in stopping firecracker accidents and other related untoward incidents during the Christmas celebration. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)