A Safer Philippines; (Message Delivered by Mayor FRANCIS N. TOLENTINO, President, League of Cities of the Philippines at the 1st International Conference on Safer Cities: Responding to Urban Insecurity, Crime and Violence, 21-22 April 2003, Manila Hotel.)

Manila Bulletin, April 21, 2003 | Go to article overview

A Safer Philippines; (Message Delivered by Mayor FRANCIS N. TOLENTINO, President, League of Cities of the Philippines at the 1st International Conference on Safer Cities: Responding to Urban Insecurity, Crime and Violence, 21-22 April 2003, Manila Hotel.)


Byline: FRANCIS N. TOLENTINO

WE cannot focus on what has happened at the expense of planning for what could happen. This is the one all-important message that the US Conference of Mayors emphasized when they crafted the national plan for safe and secure American Cities, one month after 9-11.

The Philippines has also had its share of challenges. In December 2001, Filipinos witnessed one of the worst chains of bombing incidents and foiled bombing attempts in Metro Manila: the Plaza Ferguson incident, just across from the American Embassy along Roxas Boulevard, Manila; the one within the vicinity of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque City; the incident that claimed the life of a police officer who was then in the act of detonating a bomb in front of the Dusit Hotel in Makati City; the bombing of a bus liner in front of a private market along EDSA, Quezon City; and the total destruction of at least two coaches of the Light Rail Transport System.

Between April 21, 2002 and April 7, 2003 key cities in the Philippines fell prey to violent events, namely: the General Santos City bombing (April 21, 2002); Cotabato City bombing (May 16, 2002); Zamboanga City bombings (Oct. 2 and 3, 2002); Kidapawan City bombing (Oct. 10, 2002); Quezon City bus bombing (Oct. 18, 2002); Cotabato City airport car bombing (Feb. 20, 2003); Davao City International Airport bombing (March 4, 2003); Tagum City public market bombing (March 4, 2003 - minutes after the Davao City International Airport incident: and the Davao City Sasa Wharf bombing (April 7, 2003). Sporadic "hits" in other key cities and towns were either consummated, foiled or detonated over the same stretch of time and beyond.

The conference seeks to bring forth the growing concern among urban policy makers, the business community and citizens both here and around the world on addressing the impacts of urban insecurity, crime and violence. When asked, many cities now rank urban insecurity at the same level as affordable housing and safe water supply in terms of priority needs.

It is a direct response to this concern. It seeks to raise the level of awareness of, and responses to the evolving concerns of urban insecurity and violence in what is becoming an increasingly unstable geopolitical context. The objective would be to examine new approaches to reducing violence and its multidimensionality. It would also bring to bear the international lessons of experience on the current state of practice and knowledge in the field to arrive at effective and timely responses to a fast emerging priority agenda for Asian Mayors.

The conference also aims to be a stepping stone to formulate a national strategic action plan on how to make our cities safe by focusing on other root causes of crimes and violence such as poverty, rapid urbanization and social inequities.

We stress, however, that we do not intend to develop a textbook solution to street crimes and violence, but will analyze the dynamic interplay of various factors affecting the breeding grounds of criminality in specific localities.

We shall distribute to you what we envision to be a draft national action plan for safety and security in Philippine local governments, which is designed to supplement our existing integrated area/community public safety plans.

The framework of this proposed action plan follows the flow of this conference, thus:

* The social, political and economic costs of urban insecurity, crime and violence;

* How urban poverty relates to terrorism, crime and violence;

* The role of the police, legislative and judicial systems in formulating crime and violence strategies, especially at the city and municipal levels;

* The role of information technology and information systems in promoting urban security and safety;

* The role of diagnosis, partnerships and stakeholder consultations in preparing and implementing a strategy for safe and secure local governments;

* National-local actions for strengthening urban security and safety;

* Knowledge and capacity building for strengthening urban security and safety; and

* Funding urban security and safety strategies

The components of the proposed action plan shall be:

Law enforcement and crime prevention

Law enforcement and crime prevention should follow the interplay of the five pillars of the criminal justice system in the Philippines.

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A Safer Philippines; (Message Delivered by Mayor FRANCIS N. TOLENTINO, President, League of Cities of the Philippines at the 1st International Conference on Safer Cities: Responding to Urban Insecurity, Crime and Violence, 21-22 April 2003, Manila Hotel.)
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