By Martin Sadongdong
The first of the nine-day “Simbang Gabi” or dawn mass in Metro Manila was peaceful and crime-free, the Philippine National Police (PNP) announced Sunday.
For the entire Yuletide season, more than 7,800 PNP personnel were deployed in places of convergence and vital installations such as public markets, malls, churches, airports, LRT and MRT terminals, seaports, and transport terminals.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde ordered stepped-up police visibility and preventive patrol operations to ensure the safety and security of the church-goers.
“This is an important Filipino tradition that we cannot afford to miss. We are prepared to address any security issue that can possibly spoil this event,” Albayalde said.
The “Oplan Ligtas Kapaskuhan 2018” was designed to minimize crimes during the Yuletide season as PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde reminded anew all police commanders about the operational guidelines and procedures to be undertaken in maintaining order, law enforcement, and in providing public safety services during the traditional nine-day “Simbang Gabi.”
Albayalde said he expects field commanders to make inspection rounds in churches around the metropolis and suburbs on Sunday to assess the implementation of beat patrol and mobile patrol operations in areas where parishioners gather to attend the traditional nine-day dawn masses.
The PNP chief also instructed all police regional directors to redirect police patrol operations to maximize police visibility around churches.
Albayalde specifically instructed field unit commanders to deploy mobile patrol units with blinkers turned on to visibly establish police presence but not necessarily create undue alarm to the public.
Local police units were also reminded to be on the lookout for criminal elements engaged in common street crimes such as mugging, swindling, gang wars, robbery and theft, and burglary of unattended residences.
On the first day of Simbang Gabi, National Capital region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Guillermo Eleazar made the rounds of select churches in Manila particularly Quiapo, Santa Cruz, Binondo, San Agustin, and Manila Cathedral.
Eleazar ordered the five district directors to tighten security around churches and residential areas to protect churchgoers and thwart burglars.
The five districts covered by the NCRPO are the Manila Police District (MPD), Quezon City Police District (QCPD), Northern Police District (NPD), Southern Police District (SPD), and Eastern Police District (EPD).
“The Team NCRPO celebrates this Christmas by intensifying police visibility to ensure there will be peace, order, safety and joy in our midst, every moment of the day,” Eleazar said.
Eleazar said no security threat has been monitored by the NCRPO although he emphasized that they were continuously working with the intelligence community to assess the situation in Metro Manila.
The NCRPO remains on heightened alert status but Eleazar said it may be raised to full alert depending on the circumstances.
Eleazar reiterated his reminder to the public to always be on alert against lawless criminals.
He urged them to report any suspicious activity to installed police station hubs strategically positioned around the metro or through its hotline 0915-888-8181 and 0999-901-8181. (With PNA)