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Opinion

Checkpoint equality

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

Chief PNP Gen. Rommel Francisco Marbil recently ordered ground personnel manning police checkpoints to inspect both two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles and to put a stop to the discriminatory checks against motorcycle riders.

As simple as the directive may seem, it deserves praise because once in place, criminal elements using cars and trucks will surely hesitate to drive around with weapons and contraband. The process or experience of going through a police inspection will surely remind Filipinos that no one is above the law and hopefully revive respect for the police the same way traffic law enforcement made Metro Manila drivers respect and obey MMDA enforcers.

It goes without saying that Gen. Marbil should require regular if not daily briefing of checkpoint personnel regarding how to properly engage drivers and vehicle owners. This would also be a great opportunity to place women police officers as point persons for engaging drivers.

While it is not always the case, the Chief PNP might want to consider deploying K-9 units at those checkpoints to sniff out drugs, weapons or alcohol abuse. I know from my conversations with PPA general manager Jay Sanitago that their agency has invested in the training and development of K-9 dogs for such times.

Knowing the Filipino psyche, the two things that are disarming if not scary for them are a woman (especially one with a side arm) and a trained K-9 dog. The advantage of K-9s is that police officers won’t have to risk themselves while conducting searches.

On a totally different topic, I hope the Chief PNP could also be proactive about the questionable practice of PNP traffic investigators or desk officers who automatically charge any and all drivers with “reckless imprudence resulting in injury/homicide,” etc., especially when charging the innocent or those who are actually the victim or injured party.

This automatic accusation of and judgment of vehicle drivers without investigating who is actually at fault has made the PNP look stupid or ignorant of the law and ironically, no one from the PNP has ever tried to explain why their personnel acts as such. I sincerely hope Gen. Marbil will either explain it thoroughly or put an end to it.

Last but not least, it might be a good idea for the Chief PNP to check on PNP motorcycle units that serve as escorts to PNP official vehicles and VIPs. As a regular traveler to Southern Luzon, I get to catch marked PNP vans that are escorted by PNP motorcycle units in full use of sirens as well as their red and blue blinkers, cutting through traffic, etc.

To be fair, I no longer see abusive behavior or show off riding among motorcycle escorts, but if the convoy is part of a one-lane traffic or approaching toll gates, etc., all efforts to push things faster only give a bad impression about the escorts as well as the VIPs in those fully tinted blackout vans and patrol cars. The fact that police cars are tinted simply sets the wrong example for motorists. That’s all, SIR!

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For a bit of good news, the Philippine government led by the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture are being proactive in terms of building up logistics in their respective campaigns against disease.

Friends in the health sector have informed me that the DOH has committed to the bulk purchase of flu vaccines and is scheduling arrival some time August or a little later. Such an immunization program will certainly be an added protection, especially for senior citizens who often suffer the most during flu season.

My family and I already had our flu shots last June when they were made available at a Watsons outlet in the Estancia Mall. We opted to do it first chance we got because prior to that, many friends had already shared their week-long or 10-day torment and bouts with the flu. Why risk so much suffering or being bed-ridden when a flu shot could reduce the chances of infection?

Unlike getting the flu shot in a private clinic or pharmacy, the DOH flu vaccination will surely be more affordable for ordinary Filipinos, and we should all help spread the word once the vaccines arrive in a government hospital or clinic near you. This is the least we can all do to fight the disinformation about vaccines.

For its part, the Department of Agriculture has closely been working on the registration and upcoming field testing of a vaccine designed to protect hogs from the African swine fever, otherwise known as ASF. The FDA or Food and Drug Administration has committed to speed up their process in order to quickly prove and approve the efficacy of the Vietnamese-developed vaccines.

If you are an active hog raiser or had to stop due to the ASF virus, this development is something we should all support as well as pray for good outcomes. Many former backyard hog raisers like myself were hit so hard and wiped out by the ASF virus that we decided to drop out of the business. But if the ASF vaccine really delivers, then I am confident that many backyard and commercial hog raisers will be willing to give the business a second try.

During my time as a volunteer speaker for BMEG, I witnessed how many ordinary Filipinos relied on this livelihood, built their homes as well as sent their children through school. I am hopeful that with the vaccine as well as cooperation between the DA and feed companies such as BMEG, we can once again see the revival of a major sector of the agriculture industry.

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E-mail: [email protected]

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