By Zaldy De Layola

(File photo)

MANILA – House Speaker Martin G. Romualdez on Monday said the effort to curb the incidence of crimes, especially gun-related violence, should start with strict enforcement of the law.

Romualdez made this remark during his emergency meeting with Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin.

He agreed on the necessity of an enhanced drive against criminality that includes a sustained crackdown on illegal firearms and increased police visibility across the country along with ongoing programs for improved intelligence-gathering capability and training of policemen.

Romualdez committed the solid support of the House of Representatives for a genuine intensified campaign of law enforcement authorities against crime to ensure the safety of every citizen.

The Speaker sought the meeting with Abalos and Azurin following recent incidents of gun-related violence against certain local officials and hapless civilians.

“Nakausap ko si Presidente (Ferdinand Marcos) kanina [sa Cebu] at natuwa siya na binibigyan nating pansin ang nangyaring krimen recently (I talked with the President a while ago in Cebu and he was elated that we are giving attention to the crimes that happened recently),” Romualdez said.

Despite the high-profile crimes that occurred recently, Abalos and Azurin told Romualdez that the overall crime rate relatively went down.

“We gave Sec. Abalos and Gen. Azurin our assurance that the House of Representatives would be open to providing the PNP with adequate funding support and other resources — as well as new legislation if necessary — to buttress the campaign against crime, which is our shared concern,” Romualdez said.

Other leaders who attended the meeting include House Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe, House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan, Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Zaldy Co, Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, Camiguin Rep. Jayjay Romualdo and Agusan del Norte Rep. Joboy Aquino II.

Abalos and Azurin were joined by chief of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management Maj. Gen. Eliseo Cruz, National Capital Region Police Office chief Maj. Gen. Edgar Alan Okubo, and deputy chief for operations Maj. Gen. Jonnel Estomo.

“We are here to address all possible threats to public order and safety. We agreed to work together to reduce all forms of criminality and violence,” Romualdez said.

He emphasized the continued collaboration between local communities and the government to ensure the success of the campaign against crime.

Romualdez pushed for a stricter licensing system for firearms by requiring additional training on gun safety and stringent background checks on anybody who is purchasing a firearm.

In addition, Romualdez proposed to strengthen the government’s national database of firearms to enable authorities to effectively track the movement and ownership of firearms in the country.

“These proposals are meant to ensure a safer environment for everyone. This is our commitment to protect the citizens and promote public safety,” he said.

He appealed to the DILG and the Department of Justice to see to it that cases filed against offenders of illegal possession of firearms are successfully prosecuted and that the violators are convicted and punished.

Romualdez also gave due credit to the hard work, commitment and dedication of law enforcement agencies across the country to fight all forms of criminal activities. (PNA)