The strength of a collective is a formidable response against any crisis. This is the wisdom that Police Brigadier General Rhodel Orden Sermonia carries with him as a public servant. For him, an initiative can achieve maximum impact only if it is inclusive and collaborative.
PBGen. Sermonia, 2003 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipino and 2019 Metrobank Foundation Award for Continuing Excellence and Service (ACES) recipient, has long made community empowerment as his lifelong advocacy. “I believe that people’s mobilization is an important trust-building mechanism in thrusting a successful drive against criminality, terrorism, substance abuse, and, corruption,” he said.
As the incumbent Regional Director of the Police Regional Office 3 (PRO 3) in Camp Olivas, San Fernando, Pampanga, this rings true as he leads his comrades towards enhancing their programs for the community in the face of the pandemic.
In November 2019, PBGen. Sermonia took the helm of the PRO 3 and has since introduced several strategies to bolster their campaign against criminality in all its forms. All these are rooted in genuine partnership with the people and industry partners.
These include the establishment of the Joint Industrial Peace Concerns Office (JIPCO) to boost efforts to combat insurgency, and the Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo (KKDAT) to promote youth development.
Further, part of their holistic approach to community development is providing equal focus on safety and environment through the Kaligtasan at Kalikasan (KALIGKASAN) program which was recently expanded to include food security and peace-building efforts.
The PRO 3 also has the Rektang Bayanihan program which provides support to vulnerable sectors across all barangays, as well as the Bahay Pagbabago Recovery and Wellness Program which promotes rehabilitation of illegal drugs users who have surrendered.
Taken together, these massive mobilization efforts targeted to the grassroots continue to provide concrete solutions to some of the challenges in the region. More importantly, these were adapted by PBGen. Sermonia and his colleagues to better serve the residents of Central Luzon as they grapple with the disruptive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Accelerating solutions towards food security
During this difficult period where disparities become more pronounced, PBGen. Sermonia equips his team to amplify interventions and better respond to the people’s call for help.
At the onset of the pandemic, the PRO 3’s programs were modified to mitigate the effects of the community quarantines especially among the urban poor as their livelihood and means to provide for their families were disrupted.
PBGen. Sermonia sought to find ways to alleviate the food crisis confronting the residents. The PRO 3 thus modified their Food Bank project. The Food Bank seeks to store up ample supply of food to so that when calamity strikes, the PRO3 can promptly mobilize relief operations for affected communities.
“I believe that access to food is a right and not a privilege,” shared PBGen. Sermonia.
The PRO 3 raised over PhP 14,300,00 worth of food and other essential items from various donors for the Food Bank.
The PRO 3 aimed to address the immediate needs of the communities through various relief operations
The efforts of PRO 3’s partners were able to soften the impact of the lockdown, especially during the first three weeks of the enhanced community quarantine. Such proactive response during that period proved to be significant, especially since the support provided Social Amelioration Program (SAP) was yet to be released and local government units were still reeling from the economic loss brought by the lockdown.
Further, PRO 3 joined hands with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) to reach out to the members of the labor sector. On April 30, they distributed grocery packs, sacks of rice, and dressed chickens to around 2,000 locals comprised of market vendors, drivers, factory workers, and farmers across the region.
This activity was a prelude to another relief operation conducted during the national observation of Labor Day on May 1. Close to 210,000 families have benefitted from this partnership as of July 2020.
Related to this initiative is the Food Highway Project which led to the establishment of express lanes as well as a logistics system to facilitate faster and more secured movement of food products from the farmers and other food producers of Luzon to the buyers from the National Capital Region and other parts of the country.
The PRO 3 also decentralized the implementation of its KALIGKASAN Eco-Park and Urban Gardening programs to provinces to empower Philippine National Police (PNP) provincial offices to respond to the food emergencies caused by the lockdown. This meant that identified local spaces or lots were utilized for urban gardening.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) guarantees the duration of the lease for an agreed period at no cost to the police stations. To date, a total of 162 donors are registered in the entire Region 3 signifying that their lots are cultivated for gardening.
The PRO 3’s urban gardening programs seek to provide an alternative means for residents to provide food for their families
In support of these efforts, the Department of Agriculture (DA) brought its Kadiwa market to Camp Olivas on May 29, 2020. This sought to provide a market for the farmers and fisherfolks while providing affordable and quality produce and goods to the citizens.
Amplifying efforts to serve the community
PBGen. Sermonia and his colleagues aim to extend support however they can. They promptly implemented the barangay house tagging as part of the Patrulya ng Bayan program.
The barangay house tagging operates under four main objectives. First, it aids in contact tracing or identification of probable infected persons and those they got in contact with in the past two weeks. Second, it identifies indigent families who are entitled to various government assistance such as the SAP. Third, it similarly finds supposed beneficiaries of SAP but were excluded from the list for them to avail of PRO 3’s Rektang Bayanihan relief goods. Lastly, it also serves as an opportunity to spot criminal elements whose movements were hampered when the lockdown started.
Moreover, the PRO 3 carried out a police caravan to recognize the hard work of the region’s front liners. They stationed in front of different hospitals in Central Luzon and offered simple but welcome respite through lighthearted entertainment.
They also gave out personal protective equipment (PPEs) during the activity to express their admiration and snappiest salute to the medical workers who work round-the-clock to save lives.
A police caravan was conducted for the region’s medical front liners
Their Rektang Libreng Sakay program also provided means of mobility to locally stranded individuals (LSI), returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), persons in emergency situations, and other front liners. A total of 4,874 individuals across Central Luzon benefitted in the activity, foremost among which were returning OFWs who were assisted by the PNP, in partnership with members of the Global Peace Community Relations (GPCR).
The PRO 3 provided means of mobility through the Rektang Libreng Sakay program
Indeed, PBGen. Sermonia and his comrades demonstrate that every situation is rife with opportunities to serve, no matter how big or small the contribution is. The PRO 3’s stakeholder-centered responses not only enhance community relations but significantly support the citizens as the entire region strives to bounce back from the impacts of the pandemic.
Tags: 2020 News