THE main mission of the Philippine National Police is to enforce the law, prevent and control crimes, maintain peace and order, and ensure public safety and internal security.
For the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO), their function does not with stop with law enforcement and maintaining peace and order.
In 2013, the IPPO, which has its main headquarters at Camp Sumagaysay in Santa Barbara, Iloilo, conducted the initiative dubbed “Aetas Empowerment Program.”
Police Executive Master Sergeant (PEMS) Hilario Jover of the IPPO said the initiative aimed at creating awareness among the Aeta community, in terms of crime prevention, considering that they are also vulnerable to different kinds of abuses.
“The Aetas Empowerment Program is focused on the welfare of the ‘Atis’ or ‘Aetas’ who were considered as the first settlers in the province of Iloilo,” Jover said.
He said that one of the program objectives is to provide support and enable the Atis feel that they are not neglected.
“Embracing them as brothers and sisters who belong to the indigenous group, the program recognizes and empowers them as part of the community,” he said.
Through the initiative, they have been able to conduct livelihood projects, feeding programs, gift-giving activities, and medical-dental missions.
Among the areas frequently visited by the IPPO are the Aeta communities in Brgy. Taminla, Dueñas and Brgy. Leon in Cabatuan, Iloilo.
According to Jover, in order to sustain this noble initiative, personnel from the Police Community Relations (PCR) of the IPPO partnered with other stakeholders to take part in this program including the Korean Community of Iloilo, Yakult, and Imam Muhammad Ahmed Anayan, who is the founder/propagator of the Icagay Muslim Community.
“Every year, at least three activities are being conducted,” Jover said, adding that all units under the IPPO take guidance from the provincial headquarters when it comes to sustaining the community assistance and development programs of the unit.
He said IPPO also encouraged other lower units in different municipalities in the province such as Anilao, Barotac Nuevo, Dueñas, Janiuay, and Maasin, with the community of Aetas to replicate the initiative.
“This kind of program is a very good tool in crime prevention in their respective areas of responsibility,” he said.
He added that their office is also facilitating the involvement of other stakeholders as partners in the implementation of the activities. (PIA-Iloilo/Photos Courtesy of IPPO)