Press Release
May 10, 2007

Military has earned the right to say 'We shall return' to NCR -- Recto
Police should fill vacuum left by soldiers' pullout

Police should fill the vacuum left by the pullout of military troops from several Metro Manila barangays so the latter would not be vulnerable to criminals who might reclaim their old lairs, Sen. Ralph Recto said.

Recto noted that the Philippine National Police has been authorized to hire 3,000 police officers this year. "If some have already been recruited then they can be deployed to crime-prone areas in NCR," he added.

This as Recto commented that AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon and his men "have earned the right to say 'We shall return', judging by the clamor of residents of affected barangays for the soldiers' immediate return."

"The people felt safe with the soldiers around. Their presence apparently deterred crimes. If they're grateful then that's not surprising because if a gated village would pay thousands of pesos for the services of private security guards, these barangays had their own guards for free," he said.

Recto had earlier supported the "temporary setting up" of checkpoints manned by courteous soldiers in known crime hotspots at night , "if only for the sake of call center and other graveyard shift workers."

"Many of those who work at night would welcome the sight of soldiers doing their share in keeping the city safe. A squad of soldiers stationing themselves in a crime-prone intersection should be a source of comfort," Recto explained.

"It is a question of practicality. Any program that would deter criminals should be supported," he said.

Recto disputed allegations that deploying Armed Forces units in the streets of the metropolis would send the wrong signal of a city under siege. "On the contrary, the message it conveys is a city that is being kept safe."

"Banks inside malls are being robbed in daylight, restaurant patrons are routinely stripped of their belongings, Internet cafes, buses are prime targets of holdups - these are arguments for getting help from the military," Recto said.

While he welcomes the deployment of soldiers in major urban centers, it should be "temporary in duration and limited in scope" Recto said.

Recto said he supports military checkpoints as an "anti-criminality tactic when there's a crime wave around. That's why I would welcome their presence on dangerous streets at night."

"What I am against is the use of soldiers for political ends like embedding them in barangays so they can campaign against activist groups," he ended.

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