By ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
THINGS seemed unwell in Mambulao these days.
Facebook postings on Jose Panganiban Camarines Norte group have zeroed in on the failure of the barangay to make the residents feel secure.
The barangay is the logical whipping boy, being the closest to grassroots and to whatever is happening in the community.
In fact, it should always know.
Incidences of break-in and the unstoppable inflow of drugs into the community have become a commonplace, giving the residents the unquiet feeling that one day, their personal safety would be at great risk.
The whole problem boils down to the inability of local leaders – meaning the barangay chairman and his kagawad – to really do something to stop this.
It is true threats to the lives of those trying to stop these anomalies are always present and that many people understand this.
But if this would be the mantra from everybody, the prospect of having a peaceful and livable community would always be beyond the people’s reach.
The Mambulao government has admitted to the fact that its current police force (at least 20, according to an LGU staff) could hardly cope with the needs of its 55,000 residents across the municipality (Meyor Dong told me that the present population could be at 70,000 now because of migrant workers engaged in gold mining).
In fact, the basic daily street patrolling by ambulant cops aside from the mobile team is hardly done due to logistics problems.
Isolated barangays with known overseas workers have always been the target of the culprits. And among the victims recently were families in San Rafael who lost valuables and properties to armed, hooded men.
The basic SOP of sending a cop to investigate the incident was never done to the chagrin of victimized families. Investigation, if properly done, could lead to the identification of the criminals, and their arrest.
But due to lack of personnel, this was never done. Or the police officer in charge did not think it was that important to bother about.
Then, we got a problem here.
And it was a shame that the criminals could hit with impunity even at North Poblacion just a stone’s throw away from the municipal hall, the seat of the local government.
Residents in the area were clueless why such things could happen.
Sporadic incidences of robbery and drug-related offences have also shown their ugly heads in crowded areas such as Plaridel, Mother Lode and Parang.
Such are making the residents exasperated and becoming infuriated.
With the election of new barangay officials, Mambulao residents are crossing fingers that the new grassroots leaders could do something to stem the tide of lawlessness in their respective communities.
However, these new sets of barangay officials – from the chairman down to the kagawad -- can only do so much, and therefore the cooperation of the members of the community is one factor that could effect the much-needed change.
The barangay is there as the listening post for everything that is happening among the residents and around the community.
And the officials are there to lead the community as to how they could deal with whatever crisis on hand.
Should the chairman fail in this job, the people must not waste time and instead take the initiative to tackle the problem head-on.
Mayor Ricarte “Dong” Padilla should be able to thresh out this issue while the situation is still manageable.
He could do a long-distance “mayoring”, or visit the complaining area himself -- for impact.
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