MANILA, OCTOBER 11, 2003 (STAR) By Non Alquitran  - Metro Manila mayors and the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) have closed ranks on the security arrangements for the Oct. 18 state visit of US President George W. Bush and in the total war against organized crime and terrorism.

Metro police chief Deputy Director General Reynaldo Velasco said the Metro Manila mayors have also stepped up preprations in their respective areas, including intensifying intelligence gathering and monitoring amidst threats by terrorist groups and other militant groups to mar the visit of Bush.

In a peace and order briefing yesterday, Manila Mayor and League of Metro Mayors president Lito Atienza assured Velasco that tighter security measures down to the barangays are now being implemented in the metropolis.

Earlier, Velasco said at least 10,000 policemen, assisted by a military contingent, will be deployed to deal with the rallyists and secure vital government and private installations including the oil depots, malls and mass public transport systems.

Velasco stressed that the "no permit, no rally policy" will be applied during Bush visit and that Metro mayors have the final say on whether or not to grant rally permits to demonstrators.

In the same briefing, Velasco thanked the chief executives as he cited their crucial role in the government’s anti-crime campaign against syndicated crimes such as bank robberies, kidnap-for-ransom and drug-trafficking, street crimes and even terrorism.

Apart from Atienza, Velasco also acknowledged the support of Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr.; Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay; Caloocan City Mayor Rey Malonzo; Marikina City Mayor Ma. Lourdes Fernando; Mandaluyong City Mayor Benhur Abalos; Taguig Mayor Freddie Tinga; Pasay City Mayor Peewee Trinidad; Las Piñas City Mayor Vergel Aguilar; Parañaque City Mayor Joey Marquez; Malabon Mayor Amado Vicencio; Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco; Muntinlupa City Mayor Jaime Fresnedi; Pateros Mayor Rosendo Capco and Valenzuela City Mayor Jose Emmanuel Carlos in the NCRPO’s drive against all forms of criminality, particularly in providing necessary assistance that would boost the police capability.

Velasco cited Belmonte who recently donated P6 million worth of equipment to further augment the law enforcement and counter-terrorism capability of the Central Police District (CPD).

"Donations and financial support being provided by our Metro Manila mayors have been very helpful in improving our effort in maintaining the peace and order in the metropolis," said Velasco.

He said the continuous support of the LGUs would also enhance the capability of the NCRPO’s Huli Agad and Pulis Mabilis programs, which aims to provide citizens with a quick response unit.

"Our mayors play a vital role in the success of NCRPO’s anti-crime drive in the metropolis and their assistance will be a big boost in our effort to maintain the peace and order of the entire Metro Manila," Velasco said. "Teamwork between the mayors and the district and station commanders is necessary to put a stop in the surge of criminality especially now that we are nearing the holiday season, where we expect an increase in the crime incidents." Alarm Systems

In another development, all banks located in Metro Manila would soon be required to install automatic alarm systems that would be connected to the police stations to serve as a deterrent to bank robberies and ensure quick police response to such situations.

This agreement was made by Metro Manila mayors during a meeting hold this morning in Manila by the National Capital Region (NCR) Peace and Order Council presided by Atienza.

The meeting of the NCR Peace and Order Council was held primarily to finalize security plans for the scheduled visit of Bush.

Atienza said that the agreement to require banks in Metro Manila to install automatic alarm systems would be formalized in a resolution by the Metro Manila Council urging the municipal and city councils of Metro Manila local government units to enact an ordinance requiring the same.

"Of the estimated two thousand or so banks located in Metro Manila, only seven hundred have automatic alarm systems. This is one of the reasons why some criminal syndicates have successfully pulled off bank heists in the past," Atienza explained.

The Metro Manila mayors also urge the Philippine National Police, which accredits private security agencies hired to secure banks to conduct thorough background checks on security guards assigned by their respective agencies to banks in Metro Manila.

"There have been several instances in the past when security guards assigned to banks were in cahoots with banks robbers and provided detailed information on the security system of the banks they were assigned to guard," Atienza pointed out.

Aside from increased police visibility, the Metro Manila mayors also pushed for more effective police intelligence work so that bank robberies being planned could be foiled before they could be carried out.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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