IN LAGUNA, EXECS PREFER CRIME TIPS VIA TEXT MESSAGES
SAN PEDRO CITY— Village chiefs in Laguna province preferred using mobile phones as means for citizen crime reporting, rather than collecting information about drug and crime suspects through drop boxes.
According to Lorenzo Zuñiga, president of the League of Barangay Captains in Laguna, said protecting the tipster’s “anonymity” would be a problem when he or she submitted sensitive information through a drop box.
“Where would you situate the drop box? Say in barangay (village) halls, people would still see you once you drop (a sheet of paper containing information),” Zuñiga said.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) recently ordered cities, towns and villages to create “modes of reporting” in an effort to engage communities in fighting crime and illegal drugs.
One of the recommendations is the installation of a drop box where citizens may drop information on leads on crime suspects.
Manuel Gotis, DILG regional director in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), said no local government in the region had put up a drop box.
He said the agency was wait- ing for guidelines from the DILG central office on howthe mechanism would be implemented.
Zuñiga, also the league’s national secretary general, said the mechanism, which alarmed human rights groups and an opposition senator, might not work well in nonurban villages with tighter communities.
“I think that might be applicable in areas with bigger populations, but not here in the rural villages where everyone knows everyone,” he said.
“Baka lagyan lang ng chewing gum ’yan (They might just use the box as a chewing gum bin),” he said.
Zuñiga said that in his village of 500 households in Alaminos town in Laguna, they had been getting tips from citizens through text messages.
He cited an instance when authorities arrested a person, whomit turned out was the subject of an arrest warrant. The tip came from a text message sent by an unknown sender.
According to Zuñiga, anonymous information is verified by village officials and the local police before any action is taken.
“You can achieve the same purpose by posting several posters (indicating phone numbers where to report),” he said.