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‘Cris Diaz’ Archives



Smuggling in ‘economic zone’ ports
Read 458 times | Posted on June 21, 2013 @ 5 years ago

Diaz

BY : CRIS DIAZ

THE Department of Finance is planning to impose stricter policies in the operations of all shipping ports in the country. The idea is to narrow the occurrence of smuggling of contrabands in these shipping ports. There are plans to close some shipping ports that had outlived its importance.

Perhaps, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima who is pushing for the review of all port operations in the country may have noticed that some shipping ports in the country became transshipment ports of contrabands.

Purisima said that most of the suspected shipping ports are those located in “economic zone.” In the past, this corner has written one or two articles detailing the smuggling inside the economic zone areas. Smuggling in the shipping ports within economic zone areas are rampant since commodities entering in these areas are tax-free.

There is a notion that commodities shipped via the economic zone ports are for the consumption of industries and companies within the economic zone. The tax incentive is one of the “come on” that lure companies to settle in economic zoned areas.

There are economic zones in the country with occupied shipping ports. For instance, the Phivedec Industrial Estate in Misamis Oriental (PIE-MO) is one of the industrial economic zones in the country. The Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT) port is at PIE-MO. Constructed for bulk handling and large cargo shipment, MICT became one of the leading industrial ports in the country today.

Here, goods and commodities entering the port of PIE-MO are not subject to stringent port policies. The presumption is that the goods shipped through the PIE – MO port is for the consumption of the firms within the Phivedec Industrial Estate. Therefore, these goods are tax-free.

However, the policy loopholes at the industrial and economic zone ports have not escaped the creativity of smugglers. Since the operation of the MICT in Misamis Oriental, report of alleged rampant smuggling at the port hogged the newspapers and periodicals. There were insinuations that assignment at the MICT is one of the prize positions for customs officials in Northern Mindanao.

There were talks that those assigned at the MICT has the imprimatur of top customs officials in the district. Perhaps, anyone who wants an assignment at MICT should master the “dancing steps” at the customs bureau. In fact, there were allegations that those assigned at the MICT have been subject of investigation for ill-gotten wealth.

Purisima may have been aware of the operation at the MICT that he cited the Cagayan de Oro Port as one of the “shopping ports” in the country that suspected smugglers valued so much. For instance, Purisima said that the name of a company disappeared from the list at the Subic Port area for a year. Purisima later discovered that the name of the company appeared in the list at the Cagayan de Oro City Port.

For this, the Department of Finance is now planning to issue accreditation to companies operating in various ports in the country. The idea is to prevent a firm from hopping from one port to another. Well, what Purisima has discovered is only the tip of an iceberg. Digging deeper would expose “cans of worms” in these port areas. React: [email protected]



Mayor Emano’s ‘billionaire’ city
Read 502 times | Posted on June 18, 2013 @ 5 years ago

Diaz

BY : CRIS DIAZ

CAGAYAN de Oro Mayor Vicente Emano’s three-year “leave of absence” from his office will start end of June. However, “Dongkoy,” as he is known in the political circle, will continue to wield an influence in the city’s political life. Being the head of the regionally accredited Padayon Pilipino political party, the political presence of Dongkoy would remain. At least, in the context of local politics.

However, despite his absence, “Dongkoy” would leave a legacy in the city that saw the changes of the times in the last decade. Like the former Mayor “Ambing” Magtajas who has worked hard so Cagayan de Oro would get noticed in the 90s, “Dongkoy” has changed the city’s topography as business started to grow in the year 2000. “Dongkoy” could be credited as the city mayor who has gained the trust of Manila investors who pour in businesses in Cagayan de Oro City.

Among these known business investors was Henry Sy, one of Asia’s recognized business tycoons, who put up the Shoe Mart (SM) mall here. The Gaisanos also expanded their mall in Cagayan de Oro City as the Limketkai Corporation developed one of the city’s high end shopping malls in Lapasan. The Ayalas came in the last three years of Dongkoy bringing in more Manila-based investors.

Internationally known food chains like McDonald, KFC, and Kenny Rogers established their outlets here together with internationally famous coffee shops such as Starbucks.

Before Dongkoy retreated to the three-year “leave of absence,” Cagayan de Oro City has everything of what a highly urbanized city could offer.

Aside from those perks, the city also hosts an international golf course amidst an upscale subdivision. In other words, the city’s realty business also attained its height during “Dongkoy’s” administration. Candidly speaking, Cagayan de Oro City has become a competitive urban center in the country today that its annual income already reached close to P 2 billion.

Undoubtedly, the administration of Mayor Oscar Moreno would inherit a “billionaire” city. Moreno is lucky to be given a chance to steer Cagayan de Oro City at the height of its progress and development. There is not much for Moreno to work hard in Cagayan de Oro City. After all, “Dongkoy” Emano has already attained most of Moreno’s 8-point campaign agenda.

Moreno should take into account that the people expect him to take care of the gains of Dongkoy Emano. Moreno should not be annoyed if people would always compare his actions to Dongkoy’s. After all, it is the right of the residents, much more of the Cagayanons, to look into the actions of their leaders on matters of the city’s affairs.

The people also expect Moreno to achieve, if not surpassed, what “Dongkoy” has attained in the past. React: [email protected]



Travelers cite traffic woes and security concerns
Read 312 times | Posted on June 17, 2013 @ 5 years ago

Diaz

BY : CRIS DIAZ

FLAWS during the first few days of operations at the Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental started to manifest. However, these maladies were not new. This corner has written a lot about the Laguindingan airport – its operations and the lack of it.

The first of the pioneering passengers who flew last Saturday, when the airport opened for commercial flights, had a lot too many observations of immediate concern. Well, as said most of these predicaments were not new.

However, passengers immediately noticed the “heavy traffic” along the highway from Cagayan de Oro City to Laguindingan. The traffic exacerbates as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) continue to dig holes along the way. Many complained that the DPWH road maintenance along the Cagayan de Oro – Iligan City corridor has been going on for more than a year now. Yet, until now, the DPWH maintenance project frustrates the commuting public. Blame the contractor for the sloppiness. However, it is the job of the DPWH to see to it that completion of the maintenance project would be on time.

Good if the highway road is six or eight lanes for any maintenance project would not contribute to traffic congestion in the area.

Can anyone imagine that traveling to the Laguindingan airport from Cagayan de Oro City as the maintenance project goes on would take two hours?

We are writing of passengers with private service vehicles here. This is unacceptable since traveling from Cagayan de Oro City to Iligan under normal situation only takes a little over than one hour. Even with the DPWH maintenance project, traveling to Iligan from Cagayan de Oro City takes only two hours at most.

By the way, Iligan City is 88 kilometers west of Cagayan de Oro City. Laguindingan is more or less around 40 kilometers. In a standard travel time, it would only take a little over 30-minute from Cagayan de Oro City to Laguindingan airport.

Security is also one of the major concerns while one travels to Laguindingan airport. With a constricted highway, a travel toward the Lagundingan airport from either Cagayan de Oro City or Iligan City is vulnerable to highway robberies at a lesser degree.

In other words, the execution of major crimes along the unsecured highways is not farfetch.The four-kilometer stretch from the airport to the main highway is not also immune to the possible commission of crimes.

We believe ‘though those airport officials could address the question of security between the airport and toward the corner of the main highway. Perhaps, airport officials could hire airport police tasked to conduct regular patrol along the road from the airport to the main highway.

Air travelers also expressed apprehensions at the lack of service vehicles that could convey from the highway toward the airport. Certainly, passengers without service vehicles would take passenger buses to get to the airport.

The idea is to save since the fare from Cagayan de Oro City to Laguindingan is only about P 40.00 to 50.00. Now, we are only writing about traffic problems and security while traveling toward the airport. Many more would definitely come in the days ahead.

React: [email protected]



Education department should improve competence of mentors
Read 424 times | Posted on June 14, 2013 @ 5 years ago

Diaz

BY : CRIS DIAZ

In spite of the big budget for the Department of Education (DepEd), the department still faces perennial problems that appear to be without solution. By the way, the government reportedly allocated P292 billion budget for the education department for 2013. Earlier, we thought that the DepEd budget was about P238 billion for the current year. However, the P 238 billion budget was the amount allotted in 2012.

One can just imagine the large sum of money intended for the education system compared to the budget allotted for social services. No wonder, one would always hear complaint about government’s inadequate provision of basic services to the masses of our people.

However, the people wonder on the education department’s failure to address problems on the lack of classrooms, books, and public school teachers in the country. Perhaps, there is something wrong in identifying the priorities of the country’s educational system.

For instance, the controversial K12 policy has drawn varied reaction among education experts. The implementation of an additional two years to the primary and secondary levels of the country’s educational requirements means additional expense. This is the reason of the sudden increase of the budget for the DepEd this year.

On the other hand, the parents suffer more of the new education policy since an additional number of years in the primary and secondary levels also mean additional expense.

Education officials believed that increasing the number of years in the primary and secondary levels would provide the students adequate skills that would qualify them for employment. By this time, an employed student may opt to continue a college education.

Everybody shares the obsession of the education officials to equip students with necessary skills. The problem, however, that the education system is facing today is not about skillful students. The problem is about “quality education.” It is the contention of education experts that students could only acquire necessary skills under competent mentors.

The training of competent mentors is one of the predicaments that the DepEd is trying to resolve. While public school teachers are required to hurdle the board exam for teachers, passing the teacher’s board does not guarantee of producing competent public school teachers.

Thus, there are strong recommendations that DepEd should spend more for the training of public school teachers in their specialized field of studies.

They said that this approach is much better than implementing the K12 program, which added burden to DepEd and parents.

Certainly, the regular training and exposure of public school teachers would improve their skills and authority in their field of studies. What are these trainings but seminars and workshops undertaken by experts and authority of specialized field of studies?

The DepEd could invite lecturers from other countries to train public school teachers. On the other hand, DepEd may also send teachers for further studies abroad to hone them in their specialized field in science and technology. Candidly, this approach is objective than introducing additional number of years in the primary and secondary levels of education sans competent mentors. React: [email protected]



Inheriting a bankrupt provincial govt
Read 343 times | Posted on June 12, 2013 @ 5 years ago

Diaz

BY : CRIS DIAZ

THE provincial capitol in Misamis Oriental is reportedly bankrupt. At least, that is the initial findings of a “transition team” of incoming Governor-elect Bambi Emano. This corner had the purported documents two weeks ago detailing Capitol’s alleged transactions involving unpaid millions of financial obligation.

The document disclosed of a provincial treasurer’s official report of a “depleted cash fund” at the Capitol. The report also disclosed efforts of the incumbent provincial capitol officials to “clear” all its financial obligations prior to assumption of the newly elected provincial governor.

Outgoing provincial Governor Oscar Moreno wants to clear the province of all financial obligations before he leaves the Capitol building at the end of June. Moreno is serving his last term as provincial governor.

He then ran for mayor in Cagayan de Oro City and won the hotly contested seat against incumbent city Mayor Vicente Emano. Moreno is also facing disqualification protest with the Commissions on Election (COMELEC) for allegedly rigging the result of the mayoral polls.

Anyway, winning the mayoral post in Cagayan de Oro City is graceful exit of Moreno’s administration at the provincial capitol. With allegation of squandering millions of taxpayers’ money through alleged unsettled cash advances amounting to about P 120 million, one would suspect Moreno’s handling of the affairs of the provincial government.

Now, he initial findings of Bambi Emano’s “transition team” that detailed alleged “misuse of public funds” at the provincial capitol during Moreno’s watch. A lawyer and a certified public accountant purportedly reviewed the document where an official at the provincial treasurer’s office reportedly supplied.

The report disclosed of a P220 million Philhealth Premiums allocated under the “indigence enrolment” program. The amount is for payment in 2013 at P 50 million per quarter.

Aside from this, the provincial government has to pay this month the P 50 million unpaid arrear Philhealth premiums in 2012, carried over to 2013.

Misamis Oriental has also a payable amounting to P 72 million from previous years, which are due for payment in June this year.

The provincial government has also applied for a loan at the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) intended for the Misamis Oriental Telephone. Some P 40 million loans are due for release this month increasing interest payable and loans payable.

Gov. Moreno has also reportedly withdrawn P 14 million “confidential fund” two weeks after the May 13, 2013 elections. Moreno allegedly withdrew the fund claiming the money was “his confidential fund.”

Knowing the tight financial status of the provincial Capitol, the incoming administration would want to defer all financial obligations of the provincial government pending a “review of all transactions.” The idea is fine. However, with Moreno still at the helm of the provincial capitol until end of June 2013, Gov.-elect Bambi Emano could not do anything.

Most certainly, incoming Gov. Emano would inherit a bankrupt provincial capitol administration. Emano could not do anything but scour on the spoils left by Moreno’s administration.

Consequently, the first order of the day is for Gov. Emano to regain Capitol’s financial liquidity.

React: [email protected]



The values of the country’s future leader
Read 349 times | Posted on June 11, 2013 @ 5 years ago

Diaz

BY : CRIS DIAZ

LACK of classrooms, lack of chairs, and lack of teachers are perennial problems that the Department of Education (DepEd) encounters during the opening of classes. Recognize this is a problem of our educational system. However, the problem irritates the public especially parents of the inability of the government and the DepEd to address the malady. There is this feeling that the DepEd and educational officials simply want this problem to justify getting more in the pie of the country’s national budget.

Hold it! If one talks about the approved annual budget for the Department of Education, one might have more questions than answers. With an approved national budget of P 238 billion, the Department of Education chalked the biggest chunk of the country’s national budget for the fiscal year 2013. That amount is almost half-higher than the P 152 billion budget for the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH).

In most, if not all cases, public schools in the country’s hinterlands are dilapidated. Rainwaters sipped into classrooms. Often, these public schools are flood prone, too. Certainly, public schools lack the maintenance. The absence of an adequate drainage system also made public schools prone to flooding. This, in addition to the problems mentioned earlier. Even public schools in urban centers are not immune to these problems.

As if to dramatize the public schools’ inadequacy of almost all everything, budgetary constraint included, education officials urged parents to form the Parents Teachers Association (PTA). The PTA was encouraged in all public and private schools under pretext that parents and teachers should work together to foster closer relationships. Aside from this, the creation of the PTA was to establish a favorable environment of learning. Other than this, there are no hidden agenda attached to PTA. Is it so?

On the contrary, the PTA discloses so many controversial presumptions and assumptions. For instance, the school effectively employed the PTA as a channel to fill up the education department’s inadequacies. Teachers urged parents, through the PTA, to comply requirements that the education department is supposedly obliged to fulfill. A classic example is the repair of school’s rooftops and ceilings. More often, teachers ask parents for the painting of classrooms and the procurement of window screens, electric fans, and others. The fund for these projects is in the guise of the agreed contribution through PTA meetings. Such character simply exposed the DepEd’s brazen callousness.

The truth is that the education department has budgeted for this through the division of schools. In addition, the local government units have also allocated budget for maintenance of public schools. The local government funds are set aside in the local school board. Not to mention the approved national budget, where have all this money gone?

Perhaps, there is truth in the belief that the country’s education system is laden with corruption. What does one expects of a corrupt educational system? Inevitably, a corrupt educational system produces pupils and students with corrupted values that would certainly reflect the thinking of the country’s future leaders.

React: [email protected]



Controversy hounds airport’s ‘soft opening’
Read 265 times | Posted on June 11, 2013 @ 5 years ago

Diaz

By : CRIS DIAZ

A “soft opening” of the Laguindingan airport in Misamis Oriental is set today. With the opening of the new airport, growth areas might develop along the highways from Laguindingan to Cagayan de Oro City, the premier capital of Northern Mindanao. Perhaps, that is what the business community is thinking.

However, there are pessimists who believed otherwise. In most areas in the country where the airport is a distance from the city proper, development is nil and inconsistent. The exception is airports in major cities since these airports operate along with the growth of the city. In most cases, these airports are within the city proper. An example is Mactan International Airport in Cebu. The Mactan airport became progressive since the airport was once a US military air force base.

Laguindingan airport is different. Constructed in an undeveloped surroundings, it would take many years before it could attain (if ever) the status of an international airport. Why “soft opening?” What makes the difference between “soft” and “hard” opening?

Well, anyone is free to speculate on the meaning of the phrase “soft opening.” However, one might recall that the opening of the Laguindingan airport was originally set on April 30, 2013. Had it not for the widespread public disapproval, the Laguindingan airport must have open then.

President Aquino interceded and ordered CAAP to move the opening on June 15, 2013. However, the June 15, 2013 is not what the business community and travelers were demanding. Stakeholders want the opening on April 2014.

Even Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, 2nd District of Cagayan de Oro City, filed a resolution in Congress to move the opening of the Laguindingan airport on April next year. Rodriguez reiterated his disapproval to the opening of the Laguindingan airport in a letter dated April 23, 2013 addressed to Lt. Gen. William K. Hotchkiss III AFP (Ret), CAAP Director General.

In that letter, Rodriguez raised the apprehension over the “untested” competence of the air navigation facilities of the airport. He said that the lack of nighttime landing lights would lead to economic dislocation of the business community in Northern Mindanao.

Aside from those basic issues, Rodriguez also cited the lack of adequate power for the airport since the airport is short of 2MW of the required 4MW for the airport to operate its facilities.

Rodriguez was voicing the concern of the members of the business community groups in Mindanao on “what they perceived as premature opening of the airport.”

Well, how could anyone insists on the issue when many suspected that the opening of the Laguindingan airport has political undertone? Obviously, one could not blame the CAAP whose job is follow orders from the “higher (political) authorities.” After all, public safety is not an issue here. The issue is to satiate political caprices at the expense of public safety and convenience.
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The values of the country’s future leaders
Read 329 times | Posted on June 06, 2013 @ 5 years ago

Diaz

BY : CRIS DIAZ

LACK of classrooms, lack of chairs, and lack of teachers are perennial problems that the Department of Education (DepEd) encounters during the opening of classes. Recognize this is a problem of our educational system. However, the problem irritates the public especially parents of the inability of the government and the DepEd to address the malady. There is this feeling that the DepEd and educational officials simply want this problem to justify getting more in the pie of the country’s national budget.

Hold it! If one talks about the approved annual budget for the Department of Education, one might have more questions than answers. With an approved national budget of P 238 billion, the Department of Education chalked the biggest chunk of the country’s national budget for the fiscal year 2013. That amount is almost half-higher than the P 152 billion budget for the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH).

In most, if not all cases, public schools in the country’s hinterlands are dilapidated. Rainwaters sipped into classrooms. Often, these public schools are flood prone, too. Certainly, public schools lack the maintenance.

The absence of an adequate drainage system also made public schools prone to flooding. This, in addition to the problems mentioned earlier. Even public schools in urban centers are not immune to these problems.

As if to dramatize the public schools’ inadequacy of almost all everything, budgetary constraint included, education officials urged parents to form the Parents Teachers Association (PTA).

The PTA was encouraged in all public and private schools under pretext that parents and teachers should work together to foster closer relationships. Aside from this, the creation of the PTA was to establish a favorable environment of learning. Other than this, there are no hidden agenda attached to PTA. Is it so?

On the contrary, the PTA discloses so many controversial presumptions and assumptions. For instance, the school effectively employed the PTA as a channel to fill up the education department’s inadequacies. Teachers urged parents, through the PTA, to comply requirements that the education department is supposedly obliged to fulfill.

A classic example is the repair of school’s rooftops and ceilings. More often, teachers ask parents for the painting of classrooms and the procurement of window screens, electric fans, and others. The fund for these projects is in the guise of the agreed contribution through PTA meetings. Such character simply exposed the DepEd’s brazen callousness.

The truth is that the education department has budgeted for this through the division of schools. In addition, the local government units have also allocated budget for maintenance of public schools. The local government funds are set aside in the local school board. Not to mention the approved national budget, where have all this money gone?

Perhaps, there is truth in the belief that the country’s education system is laden with corruption. What does one expects of a corrupt educational system? Inevitably, a corrupt educational system produces pupils and students with corrupted values that would certainly reflect the thinking of the country’s future leaders.

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Deadlier than the bullets
Read 450 times | Posted on May 31, 2013 @ 5 years ago

Diaz

BY : CRIS DIAZ

IT pains us to hear stories of people killed for varied reasons. Often, there are questions why killings take place as common as the hour of the day. Robberies and hold-ups also become the menu of the day. Worse, robbers shot in cold blood their innocent preys. The most disturbing, however, is when a person commits suicide because of hunger.

A report on Thursday said that a 25-year-old mother committed suicide when hunger drew her for the past three days. The case took place in Cagayan de Oro City. The despondent mother walked out of their home Thursday, probably in search of food. Perhaps, the mother failed to find something to fill her stomach and her children that she went out to the sea where she reportedly allowed herself to drown. The fangs of hunger are deadlier than the bullets.

Perhaps, the incident could be an isolated one. Nonetheless, with reports of the same story happening in some areas in the country, one could simply be apprehensive. How extensive poverty is in a country that boosts of a robust economy?

The National Statistical Coordination Board of the National Statistics Office said that poverty incidence among population in the country was estimated at 27.9 percent in 2012. The same report said, “The subsistence incidence that represents proportion of Filipino families in extreme poverty was about 10 per cent.” It said that the NS0 measured poverty incidence or the proportion of people below the poverty line to the total population.

In Region 10, the poverty incidence among families was 35.6 percent with Misamis Oriental (the lowest) having a 25.0 percent poverty incidence. The highest in the region was Bukidnon with 43.3 percent poverty incidence.

One of the reasons of the high incidence of poverty in the country is the rising growth of unemployment. Despite the reported growth of gross domestic product (GDP) in along with the economic reform programs of the Aquino government in the last three years, the unemployment rate in the Philippines is still the worst unemployment rate in Asia, a survey released by the IBON Foundation said. IBON said that more than 11 million Filipinos are jobless.

IBON estimates that the number of unemployed Filipinos increased by 48,000 to reach 4.4 million and the number of underemployed by 349,000 to reach 7.5 million in 2012 – for a total of 11.9 million unemployed and underemployed. The unemployment rate remained at 10.5% while the underemployment rate increased significantly to 20.0% from 19.3% in 2011.

The SWS survey also corroborates the IBON survey during the first quarter of 2013. The SWS survey said that 11.1 million Filipinos are jobless based on March 2013 survey. According to SWS, the figure translates to 25.4 percent unemployment among Filipinos aged 18 and above.

It is understandable that the government will always have reasons to defend itself from these unwelcomed statistics. However, no amount of argument could cover up reports of people or an individual committing suicide because of hunger and poverty. This is the sad reality.

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Law enforces, lawbreakers
Read 317 times | Posted on May 29, 2013 @ 5 years ago

Diaz

BY : CRIS DIAZ

THE admission of a police officer that some men in uniform were responsible for a series of unsolved robberies in Cagayan de Oro City was not new. Although there are only few scalawags in uniform, the involvement of law enforcers in criminal activities sent a quiver in the spine.

The civilian populace looks upon law enforcers as the last ground of defense against all forms of crimes that threatens the individual in particular and the society in general. It is, however, unfortunate that these few selected men of high ideals become victims of human frailties and caprices.

The case of police officer Welvin Catalan, a member of the regional safety battalion of the Philippine National Police (PNP) was not isolated one.

Catalan, however, answered a few dozen enigmatic questions that otherwise spoiled the stability of Cagayan de Oro City for several months. It all boils down to the unsolved robberies that threaten the business community – of daring armed men who has the gall to challenge even the established authorities.

One could simply remember a robbery victim who, once quoted a robbery suspect as saying, “even Mayor Emano could not do anything more to catch and prevent us.” Only a closely-knit crime syndicate could possibly utter such emboldened statement.

Certainly, Catalan was not alone. There are fears that a group of law enforcers had bonded themselves under a covenant of secrecy to carry out things of interest. There is nothing wrong with this.

After all, it is human to bond together like fraternal brothers for common objective. Thus, there is nothing wrong for law enforcers to form or join fraternal orders whose objective is to serve the interest of the people. What is not allowed ‘though is when law enforcers bonded together to carry out criminal activities. It becomes unacceptable by any set of norm or standard when law enforcers become lawbreakers.

The Catalan case served notice to local police to be aware of the doings of the men in uniform. While the case was an isolated one, it is the responsibility of the police hierarchy to, every now and then, examines the strength and weaknesses of the organization.

The police officials should strengthen its values in the resolve that serving the community is an obligation that every police officer should observe at its highest ideals. Local law enforcers should take pride of the rare opportunity to serve the people with honor and integrity. React: [email protected]

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