Southern Mindanao Cited as Nations Safest Region

Jun. 24, 2006

By Grace S. Uddin

DAVAO CITY This citys notoriety as the salvage capital of the Philippines did not prevent the Southern Mindanao region, where other cities also emulate Davao in dealing with suspected criminals, from getting the award for the Best in Regional Peace and Order Council for the year 2004.

Salvage is a term widely used by Filipinos to refer to a summary execution, often by people suspected to be authorities, mainly the police. Salvaging, in fact, has been widely supported and endorsed by Davao City officials, among them Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC).

Last year, 124 have been summarily executed in this city. Since the art of this year, according to the tally of the Mindanao Times, 41 have been salvaged, usually by motorcycle-riding men. At times, the killings occurred practically every day. Most of these cases, in which most of the victims are suspected criminals, remain unsolved.

Duterte himself went up to Manila this week to receive the RPOC award, which is administered by the National Police Commission. Davao City won the second prize as the Best City Peace and Order Council in the highly urbanized city category. Winners were given plaques of recognition and cash.

The RPOC is a body composed of several leaders from law-enforcement and civilian agencies that analyzes and responds to security and public-safety issues in the region.

The RPOC award, said Supt. Belflor Causing, spokesman for the region of the Philippine National Police, will boost the morale of the members of the Philippine National Police. This means, he said, that the regions police were doing their jobs properly.

This is not to brag but we are not really that surprised since the region is already used to getting the same award in the previous years, Causing said.

Causing explained, meanwhile, that just because the region won the award does not mean there is no crime problem in Southern Mindanao. We may have summary killings going on but the overall peace-and-order condition is the best in the country, he told This award means we have been addressing these problems effectively.

He also vouched for the relative safety of the region. I cannot think of any other place that you would feel safe. Not just Davao City but the whole region. We cannot deny we have some crime problems but compare to other regions, we have the least of these problems, he said. Southern Mindanao, or Region 11, is composed of the provinces of Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, and the cities of Davao, Panabo, Tagum. (Grace S. Uddin/

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