MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/04 June) – Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan has ordered the creation of the Provincial Anti-crime and Drug Abuse Force or Task Force Laban sa Krimen, according to an executive order dated May 17 a copy of which was obtained by MindaNews only this week.
Executive Order No. 44 named Vice Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri Jr. to head the task force whose task is to “investigate, evaluate, review, assess, and gather information to stop illegal activities or crimes [in the province]”.
The anti-crime body is also tasked to formulate an anti-crime and public safety plan.
Calingasan issued the order in the aftermath of the New People’s Army attack early in May of the police station in Malitbog town, where the police were reported to have offered no resistance. The incident led to the sacking of the provincial police director, the town’s police chief and 20 of his subordinates.
The task force shall report to the governor and is placed under the Provincial Peace and Order Council.
Calingasan cited in the executive order that the PPOC meets only once in a quarter.
The governor appointed provincial board member Rogelio Lago as vice chair of the task force.
Also named to the task force were provincial chiefs of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Provincial Prosecutor’s Office, National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Land Transportation Office, and representatives from the public transport, religious, business, labor, and academic sectors.
But sources at the Capitol said the task force may not get at the moment the approval of the provincial board with the reported argument over it between Zubiri and Lago.
The provincial police office said in a report that as of May 2011, various forms of illegal gambling exist in the province.
However, Supt. Canilo A. Fuentes, deputy director for operations of the provincial police office, told the provincial board there is no jueteng [in Bukidnon]. He also clarified that illegal suertres, which is based on the results of a lottery game sponsored by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, is being carried out via guerrilla-type operations.
But Fuentes admitted that the entire province is “practically affected with the illegal drug problem” with marijuana and methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) as the most abused drugs. He said on top of the list are the cities of Malaybalay and Valencia and eight other towns.
Bukidnon is considered a big producer of marijuana.
Fuentes added that seven crime syndicates are operating in the province. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)