HOUSE Speaker Martin Romualdez has vowed to support the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) through legislation to bolster the campaign against criminality in the country in light of the recent attacks against elected officials.

On Monday, February 27, 2023, Romualdez, who expressed alarm over the recent incidents of gun-related violence against local officials and civilians, met with DILG and PNP officials led by Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. and PNP chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr., who reported on the country’s crime situation.

They were referring to the ambush incidents involving Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr. on February 17 in Maguing town; Aparri, Cagayan Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda on February 19 in Nueva Vizcaya; Ohto Montawal on February 22 in Pasay City; and Barangay San Carlos chairman Vivencio Palo in Lipa City, Batangas, on February 26.

Adiong survived the attack but three of his security staff were killed.

Alameda along with his six companions and Vivencio were also killed during separate attacks.

Another incident on February 19 was the killing of New Zealander Nicholas Peter Stacey, who was shot dead during a robbery incident in Makati City. The police now consider the incident solved with the arrest of the key suspect, John Mar Manalo.

Azurin cited crime data culled by the Directorate for Investigation and Detection Management (DIDM) for the period January 1 to 31 that showed 14,699 reported crime incidents, marking a 14.43 percent decrease from the 17,177 reported incidents during the same period in 2022.

For February 1 to 15, the reported crime incidents registered 12,431, indicating a significant decrease of 22.73 percent from the 16,088 reported crimes in the same period in 2022.

In response, Romualdez assured the PNP and DILG leadership that the House of Representatives will provide support through legislation for adequate funding for recruitment, information technology, and capability enhancement to carry out the fight against crime, as well as priority action on pending legislation for the reorganization and modernization of the police force.

He expressed support for the proposal of the PNP to recruit 10,000 policemen every year.

For the year 2022 and 2023, only 1,000 recruitment quota of police officers were allocated to the national police organization.

Romualdez also raised the need for a stricter licensing system for firearms by requiring additional training on gun safety and stringent background checks for anyone purchasing a firearm.

Abalos vowed to intensify operations against loose firearms and organized crime groups.

“This is now a serious campaign, tamaan kung sino man ang tamaan. We will do our mandate,” said Abalos.

Azurin for his part expressed his gratitude to Romualdez for his leadership’s unwavering support to the PNP. (SunStar Philippines)