How do we ensure better personal security, which is a foremost priority for successful businesspeople, top professionals, bankers, and even more so for high-profile politicians and celebrities worldwide?
One of the Philippines’ top billionaires told me: “Please write in your column that crime is a bigger and more serious threat to foreign and domestic investments for any nation than corruption or other problems.”
I urge government to secure better peace and order as well as have the political will to reform and modernize our entire police organization nationwide.
To be fair to the many honest policemen and policewomen, the need for high-level political will and quick action to reform the police force can also salvage the badly battered reputation of the whole PNP.
NO FOREIGN INVESTMENT BOOM WITHOUT BETTER PEACE AND ORDER
Much better peace and order — not promises, “praise releases” in the mass media, excuses, bureaucratic inertia, blaming others or eloquent speeches — is demanded by all of us taxpayers, ordinary citizens, foreign investors and tourists.
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Stable peace and order is also a must if we seriously want to encourage more domestic and foreign investments to boost the Philippine economy and translate the feel-good international goodwill of “tuwid na daan” or “straight path” politics into sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
There can be no real foreign investment boom in our country if there is no perceptible improvement in peace and order here in the Philippines. We need it in order to woo foreign investors on a par with those flooding our ASEAN neighbors Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Among the numerous emails and other feedback I have received from business executives from multinational and local firms, one of the biggest concerns is the reported upsurge in kidnap-for-ransom crimes.
I recently sought out a former kidnapping victim who agreed to grant The Philippine STAR an exclusive interview. He is architect and entrepreneur Kakuen Chua, who is chairman of the NGO called Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO). The founding chairperson of MRPO is activist Teresita Ang See.
Exactly four years ago in September 2008, Chua was kidnapped in a much-publicized case. He was in captivity for 17 days before he was rescued.
Who were the culprits? Chua replied: “PACER, then under General Leonardo Espina, claims an Absent Without Leave (AWOL) policeman was the mastermind. I was rescued by PACER, now known as the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) of the Philippine National Police.”
When I asked if there is a kidnapping problem now, Chua said, “There’s a kidnapping problem, that’s why MRPO called a forum last Sept. 3 on this situation with special guests Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, PNP chief Alan Purisima, and others due to the upsurge in kidnapping cases in July and August.”
HOW TO STRENGTHEN YOUR SECURITY
Even if ensuring peace and order is the duty of the government, how can businesspeople, professionals and others prevent kidnap-for-ransom crimes? There are many ways, says MRPO chairman Chua, who shares some basic tips we should consider:
1. Screen your household staff and employees — It is important to carefully screen your household help, driver, yaya and workers in your home or office. Verify their true names and province of origin, document their pictures and require all to get National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance. Check their backgrounds.
2. Avoid routine — Avoid leaving your home at a specific time or during certain hours every day. Change your schedule a bit. Regular car routes to the office or to school should also be changed once in a while. If possible, change also the vehicles that you use.
3. Live a simple lifestyle — Chua suggests, “Don’t be showy with your personal belongings.” Avoid unnecessary extravagance.
4. Be careful about revealing data on social media — Be careful not to reveal too much about yourself or your family members via social media. No need to flaunt new cars, houses, or condominium units. Never reveal addresses and be sure to turn off the GPS function on your smartphones. Don’t post on social media the places you frequent. Some people are unaware that Facebook and other sites reveal the specific residential villages from where you are posting on social media.
5. Instruct household staff or employees not to give out information — Regularly remind your household help, drivers and other employees not to reveal information, especially of the personal kind.
6. Be vigilant not only at night, but at all times — MRPO said that it’s true that most kidnapping crimes occur at night, but there are also a few cases that happen in broad daylight, whether morning or afternoon. We should always be vigilant, not only at night.
7. Install CCTVs in your home and workplace — Installing CCTVs in all residential and workplaces is an important prevention and security measure.
8. Teach kids not to talk to or go with strangers — Just as our parents warned us, regularly remind your children not to engage in conversation with strangers, even online.
For any emergencies, the MRPO hotline is 527-6083, while the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Kidnap Group (AKG) telephone numbers are 727-0000 or 726-6507.
Be vigilant always. Let us help prevent the scourge of kidnapping and other crimes, which threaten not only the economic stability of our Philippine society due to their adverse effects on domestic as well as foreign direct investments, these crimes also directly challenge the rule of law and our democracy.
Apart from supporting government and PNP efforts to improve the peace-and-order situation, we ourselves should take our own precautionary, prevention and security measures to protect ourselves. We agree with the MRPO, which believes that we should focus on crime prevention rather than crime solution.
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