OPINION: The crime wave and the intel fund

(late upload Sept. 18, 2014 views)
By Cha Monforte
There’s a wave of crime badly troubling our municipalities these days. Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte in his TV program could have named those towns in the region experiencing sharp increase of criminalities. But he begged off in deference to mayors concerned. From mainstream news and citizens’ social media posts, what has emerged lately in these crime-troubled municipalities and cities outside metropolitan Davao is a phenomenon on the rise of incidents on carnapping of single motorcycles.
To say the average, citizens of troubled places are in danger and constantly fear for their lives with the unabated killings and other crimes occurring in their midst. There’s collective fear and fright as police and authorities have yet to stop the wave and spiral of crimes. Time’s a changing and we could not revert back to the 60s when peace was raw, disturbed only by rare conflicts between persons, and maintained only by few batuta-welding cops.
Of course, the population then was small, and only few .22-caliber paltiks were on the oose. In the vicissitudes of times and by vagaries of our societal structures, the problem of loose firearms has gone from bad to worst through time while our population had grown tenfold since the 60s. The policeman-to-population ratio has not kept up with population’s rise in time. So, as there’s usual suspect, the usual alibi is there’s so few policemen to keep the peace of outgrown population. Crime is one urban challenge and problem to address as places continue their march to urbanization.
Back to the phenomenon of motor carnapping these days, this new type of crime is added to the list of crimes that our authorities and police have been continuously fighting against. We don’t know where the carnappers are selling the units they drive off away from owners or habal-habal drivers. As single motorcycle becomes the No. 1 mode of transportation in the provinces, motor carnaping is competing with burglary, the old crime which stays as leading crime against property. And still, crimes as they continue to happen all frighten us. Our authorities have yet to dramatically reduce these from happening. Else, forgive us feeling there’s breakdown of law and order while there’s an average of low police arrests.
How do our local government units deploy resources to combat and minimize crimes remains a question needing comparative studies vis-a-vis how Davao City made large peace reign with its so large territory and so large a budget. The metropolitan city invested last year some P800 million for peace and order out of its P4.56 billion annual budget. How’s our LGUs’ policy-making on public expenditures for peace and order and public safety?
Peace and order fund in annual budget remains yet a variable account without a percentage cap or minimalist caveat. It’s different to calamity fund, now broadened as disaster risk reduction and management budget, that gets ensured 5 percent of the annual budget, or to development fund which should be at least 20% of the annual IRA, or to personal services which should not exceed 45% for the 1st to 3rd class LGUs, and 55% to 4th to 6th class LGUs.
There’s this phrase “whichever is lower” imposed as to how the budget of the largely unaudited intelligence fund (I.F.), per se, is derived. It should not exceed 30 percent of the total peace and order fund or to the 3 percent of the total annual budget. The guessed-at usual reflex is that the intel fund, being variable account and- actually a political prize- has to be increased to the max. Thus, a wily mayor has first to wait for the official annual income projection of his budget officer, before putting a figure to the peace and order fund. The target is to increase the intel fund to the maximum as high as it can get by increasing the highly variable peace and order fund. Yep, that’s it as the intel fund is practically a secret reward for winning chief executive in the polls.
But strictly and legally, the I.F. should not be used for politics and patronage but for peace and order.The rules state that the use of intelligence funds are limited to (1) purchase of information; (2) payment of rewards; (3) rental and other incidental expenses relative to the maintenance of safehouses; and (4) purchase of supplies and ammunition, provision of medical and food aid, as well as, payment of incentives or travelling expenses relative to the conduct of intelligence or confidential operations. It is audited in a special way, not by the State auditors you see in LGU offices. Its accounting or liquidation is directed to the Chairman of the Commission on Audit, “for his eyes only”, in a sealed envelope.
But because the local chief executives have wide latitude in the use of the I.F. and given its “for your eyes only” special auditing, they can always “follow” the COA rules to avoid criminal malversation or technical malversation charges, despite the rumors and gossips that swing around it, like that the I.F. fat is being spread monthly to the vice mayors and councilors to have smooth executive-legislative agenda (which is “good” than being swallowed up all by the LCE alone). There’s still a scarcity of cases where the hands of the mayors or governors have been caught in the cookie jar, malversing the I.F. Political rumor-mongers and gossipy people have to first to become mayors or governors to know the real score of the I.F. “Mag mayor or governor muna kayo.”
That despite that they, along with the rest of the troubled people, have known the real score of their peace and order situation. (follow @chamonforte, @ruralrubanews in Twitter)

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