The entire police force of Los Baños, Laguna has been sacked following the killing of a student of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños in a robbery last Sunday. Senior Superintendent Dante Novicio and his 53 police personnel were replaced because of numerous crime incidents in Los Baños, according to the regional police office in Southern Tagalog.
Ray Bernard Peñaranda, a third year agriculture student of UPLB, was the latest casualty in the breakdown of peace and order. He was walking with dormitory mates early last Sunday in Barangay Batong Malaki when two men on a motorcycle blocked their path and announced a holdup. Peñaranda was fatally stabbed in the chest.
Los Baños is not only home to a large population of university students and researchers in agriculture-related subjects but is also a popular tourist destination, like several other areas in Laguna. Security must be particularly efficient in such areas. Yet higher officials of the Philippine National Police have acknowledged that the crime situation in Los Baños has become worrisome.
As of yesterday, Peñaranda’s killers remained at large, despite a sketch released of one of the suspects and a reward amounting to P200,000 that has been put up for information leading to the arrest of the killers. A new police force is in place and is expected to do a better job. More police patrols, particularly on foot, have been ordered, and checkpoints ordered set up. Such measures should be part of standard operating procedures across the country.
Those measures come too late for Rey Bernard Peñaranda, but they can still save lives and property. The PNP must see to it that the measures are sustained beyond the national attention drawn by the killing of Peñaranda.