MY friend, Quezon City Police District director, Chief Superintendent Gilor Eleazar sent me a letter to explain what really happened during the QCPD inspection of several bars in Katipunan which was protested by netizens and students, mostly from Ateneo de Manila University. I am giving space to his explanation.
The Quezon City Police District Anonas Police Station (PS-9) conducted Operation Plan Bakal (Oplan Bakal) in three bars along Esteban Abada St., Brgy Loyola Heights, last September 13 which raised some issues from certain groups in the social media.
For the enlightenment of the public and unknown to critics, the operations were conducted at the request of the officials of the barangay, Eleazar said. Oplan Bakal is a routine anti-criminality program long in practice for decades. It was even ordered intensified by the previous administration in consonance with Oplan Lambat Sibat or Managing Police Operations. Bar or club owners know about the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), especially those who sell alcoholic drinks and those who are operating legitimately know about it even before they start their business, the member of Philippine Military Academy ‘Hinirang’ Class of 1987 told me.
“In fact, I reiterated this during our meeting with the officers of the association of bar and club owners of Quezon City last year. Since January this year, a total of 843 Oplan Bakal operations were conducted in Quezon City which resulted in the arrest of 22 suspects and confiscation of 23 firearms,” he said.
“The operations conducted in Lan Kwai, Jeepney Bistro and Tortuga, which were not the first time since last month, were coordinated with officials of Brgy Loyola Heights, who had complained after receiving information that these establishments, which are close to learning institutions, were used as fronts for prostitution and illegal drug activities,” Eleazar said
“In fact, representative of the nearby Ateneo De Manila University had raised concerns about these bars in an Ugnayan or Dialogue in the barangay last August 31. Proper coordination were likewise made with the bar owners’ representatives prior to the announcement to the customers of Oplan Bakal that night.”
He explained that the inspections conducted by PS-9 policemen were properly done which the bar owners themselves attested to. They politely approached the bar managers and requested them to turn on the lights and announced the purpose of the police.)No customer was forced to open his or her bag contrary to what was projected in media. No one was even obliged by the police to a body frisk,” he said.
“In this particular case, no firearms or contrabands were discovered. However, the said police operations revealed problems with the bars themselves. )Based on verification with the Quezon City Business Permit and Licensing Office, the license to operate of Lan Kwai was long revoked, and its registered business address is at Scout Gandia, Quezon City, not along Esteban Abada St.; Jeepney Bistro has no current business permit, its last being in 2014; while Tortuga cannot be found in the database,” Eleazar said.
“Also, the establishments were not given permits by the barangay to sell alcoholic drinks.
Finally, they did not employ security guards to routinely frisk customers prior to entry or inspect bags as conducted in malls, transport terminals and other establishments, for security and safety of customers, the QCPD director said.
“Search warrants are not needed for common sense police operations in public places such as bars and nightclubs to prevent crime and unfortunate incidents or to verify reports of criminal activity as called for in this particular situation. Nevertheless, I would like to assure the public that we will not allow any abuse or harassment in the conduct of all our police operations,” Eleazar said.
With all honesty, I don’t see anything wrong when police conduct ‘Oplan: Bakal’ particularly inside bars and other vice joints near schools and universities in Metro Manila and other parts of the country. In fact, checking bars, billiard halls and other vice joints located near schools and universities-whether public or private learning institutions is a routine job for the police and should not merit any undue public alarm.
During my younger days, I have joined policemen in conducting Oplan: Bakal inside bars near our ancestral house in Q.C. and have been a witness to many instances wherein men drinking in videoke bars and nightclubs were found to be carrying unlicensed firearms and other deadly weapons which they could easily use to kill or maim others once the become unruly.
In some cases, those apprehended turned out to be either members of the police, the military or the NBI who ignored the bar guards’ request for them to deposit their firearms at the entrance. Unknown to them, guards will immediately notify the nearest police station of their presence.
This is the reason why bar patrons would find themselves being surrounded by heavily-armed policemen, with the lights turned on and cops frisking bar guests for weapons. Those accosted for carrying guns inside bars found themselves being hauled to precincts and asked to present their identification cards and gun papers. Quite an embarrassment for them and their drinking buddies.
Unknown to many, Gen. Ronald ‘Bato’ de la Rosa has ordered his men to regularly check beer joints, billiard pools, computer shops and other suspected vice joints located near schools and universities amid complaints that they have been serving as a beehive of activities of students who are cutting classes and in some instances, a haven of petty thieves, drug dealers and armed gangs and fraternities which pose a serious threat to students. So what’s wrong with Oplan: Bakal?