Tayo Na, Mapayapang Valenzuela: Tuloy-tuloy ang Asenso! The Valenzuela City Comprehensive Safety and Security Plan
To create a peaceful and orderly city, the Valenzuela City Government enjoins volunteer organizations through the City Comprehensive Safety and Security Plan to help ensure public order and safety. The city has 788 police personnel but with a city population of more than 640,000, one police personnel had to serve 810 people (1:810). This was way more than the national ideal ratio of one police personnel for every 500 people (1:500). To augment the efforts of the city police, the program laid out community-driven security initiatives where volunteers were the frontrunners in keeping peace and order in the city.
A Public Order and Safety Group coordinates and monitors the plans and activities of the volunteer groups. It organizes schedules, standardizes processes, provides training, and identifies logistical needs of the volunteer groups. The members of the Group include national agencies such as the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and other local councils such as the Anti-Drug Abuse Council (VADAC) and the Council for the Protection of Children (LCPC) through the Child Protection Center. They sit as members of the program to ensure coordination of plans and activities and provide technical assistance. The volunteers are also properly identified through their respective uniforms and IDs. Basic logistical requirements by the volunteers are provided by the city government such as equipment for communications, supplies, and megaphones.
One of the security initiatives is Bantay Bayan composed of 2,300 volunteers. They serve as the citizen’s arm in ensuring that city and barangay ordinances are followed. Organized into teams to patrol their assigned areas 24/7, Bantay Bayan volunteers were successful in curbing illicit activities such as theft, gambling, drinking sprees, and other disorderly conduct. Meanwhile, around 266 volunteers were part of Task Force Disiplina City Ordinance Police which are deputized and authorized to issue ordinance violation receipt to violators of anti-littering, sidewalk obstruction, curfew, and videoke ordinances. In addition, about 4,450 volunteers under Task Force on Fraternities and Gangs Intervention and Prevention (TAFGIP) are tasked to settle disputes among fraternities and gangs.
Through these initiatives, the city’s crime index decreased from 144.83 in 2016 to 110.74 in 2017 (against persons and property per 100,000 population). The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) also recognized Valenzuela City as having the Best Police Station in 2018.
The program also created a Traffic Management Office manned by traffic aides and pedestrian enforcers who are assigned in every street and major intersection to enforce traffic rules, protect the pedestrians, and manage the smooth flow of traffic. Random spot checks are conducted to prevent the incidence of bribery. CCTVs managed by the Valenzuela City Command and Coordinating Center (VCC3) were also installed in strategic locations to effectively respond to road incidents. It also enjoined 280 senior citizens under Bantay Estudyante who are stationed at different elementary schools in the city to ensure that elementary students cross the streets safely and they are accompanied by their parents or guardians. These initiatives resulted in the decreasing number of traffic incidents from 1,782 to 1,677. The number of alerted incidents through CCTV declined from 100 to 9.
An Anti-Squatting Unit composed of 100 volunteers are tasked to monitor disaster-prone areas in the city for illegal settlers to prevent them from squatting there. There are also Bantay Ilog volunteers who regularly keep the cleanliness of the rivers and other water systems and prevent people from dumping garbage. In the event of fires, Bantay Sunog comprised of 2,704 volunteer community firefighters are the first line of defenders who are trained and equipped with fire extinguishers. Hence, the number of fire incidence among informal settlers decreased from 62 in 2015 to 43 in 2016.
In line with the volunteer program, innovative projects are launched to create awareness against illegal drugs as well as threats to security and public safety. This had resulted in six barangays in the city to be declared drug-cleared by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). Furthermore, 25 out of 33 barangays had been confirmed as drug-free workplace. These are the results of active participation of barangay officials and constituents in the anti-drug program of the Valenzuela city government.
The program helped build the trust of the constituents in the city government and propelled Valenzuela City as the second safest city in Southeast Asia, next to Singapore, with a safety index of 74.79 in 2018 based on Numbeo.com. As such, Valenzuela City’s comprehensive safety and security plan proved that public order and safety could be achieved with the active involvement of the community as well as cultivating people’s sense of ownership and accountability to go hand-in-hand with the LGU in building peace and order in their area