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Monday, February 16, 2015

Zambo media, CSOs, gov’t join hands for enhanced public safety, peace and order strategies

By Dominic I. Sanchez

ZAMBOANGA CITY – With the goal of promoting peace and order and reducing criminalities in the city, local stakeholders met over the weekend (February 13-14) to come up with a strategic communications and advocacy plan at a local hotel here.

The Strategic Communications Planning Workshop for Zamboanga City’s Public Safety Plan, an initiative by the United States Agency for International Development – Enhancing Governance Accountability and Engagement (USAID-ENGAGE) in partnership with the City Public Information Office (CPIO) was participated in by representatives from the local police office, military, national government agencies, civil society organizations, and the members of the Zamboanga Press Club.

According to Jules Benitez, Municipal and Community Engagement Officer for Engage, the output of the workshop is to “come up with a strategic communications and advocacy plan that aims to promote participation among the different sectors for enhanced public safety and reduced crime incidents.”

“This is actually the first time that we conducted such a workshop, but we are hoping that this group will be sustained to for the improvement of public safety and peace and order in the communities,” Benitez explained.

Dr. Elmeir Apolinario, assistant city administrator, on behalf of Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar said that “issues relative to peace and order currently confront the city, considering the recent spate of events here.”

On the other hand, Col. Angelito Casimiro, city police director confirmed that threats from different groups are indeed real, however, said groups are being closely monitored to avert any possible eventualities. “Community involvement through force multipliers is really a big hand, since there are just a handful of us policemen,” Casimiro emphasized.

Among the modules in the workshop include a stakeholder analysis, message development, and planning for the convergence of the agencies or groups that the participants represent in crafting the communications and advocacy action plan.

Apolinario expressed optimism that the public safety communication plan will be instrumental in enabling the different stakeholders making up the communities and the city to share responsibilities in maintaining the peace. “We hope that the workshop outputs will indeed help us address the security issues facing the city.”

Manwhile, Engage Chief of Party Barry Reed said in a statement that “it is our hope that this activity will further strengthen the resolve to find viable and long-lasting solutions to the city’s public safety concerns, as well as realize our dream of building back a better, more peaceful and progressive Zamboanga.”