CITY OF MATI, DAVAO ORIENTAL – As the province reopens its borders and resumes tourism activities, the Philippine National Police in partnership with the Department of Tourism has launched the Tourism-Oriented Police for Community Order and Protection (TOP COP) to ensure the safety of tourists coming in the province, particularly in the City of Mati.
On Wednesday, July 29, 20 TOP COPs completed their 10-day Tourism Police Course. These police personnel received their certificates in a simple graduation ceremony graced by the top officials of the two agencies in the region.
The graduation ceremony was highlighted by the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between the PNP, DOT, and the provincial and city government, signifying their cooperation and support for the Establishment of Tourist Police Unit in Davao Oriental.
Following the signing of the MOA, the said stakeholders have led the groundbreaking of the Tourist Police Center at the Government Center, Dahican in the City of Mati.
PNP Regional Director Brigadier General Filmore Escobal said that the series of activities cements the agencies’ efforts to ensure public order and safety amidst the expected influx of visitors and tourists.
He added that the 20 new graduates are only the initial personnel that will be deployed as TOP COPS as the agency aims to deploy a total of 60 personnel for the City of Mati alone.
“Our tourist police will focus on providing security to our visitors, to tourists, as a way to ensure general safety. Understandably so, because the top concern of our tourists is their safety,” he said.
At the ceremony, the graduates received mountain bikes courtesy of the City of Mati LGU. These bikes will aid the police in patrolling the tourism sites around the City.
Mati City Mayor Michelle Rabat is beaming with high hopes for the tourist police here. “We started this before, in 2011, but maybe because of the lack of time, we were able to put up only one tourist police center in Brgy. Dahican. But today is the right time to fast track our efforts in tourism as Mati is already ripe for tourism boost. I am only asking our tourist police to please have a heart for our tourist and the general community as well,” she added.
Department of Tourism Regional Director Tanya Rabat-Tan expressed her gratitude to the PNP and the city and provincial LGUs for being an enormous part of the realization of the project.
“The pandemic has greatly affected our tourism industry, with 50 to 100 percent impact on the establishments’ operation. That is why we, at the agency, are happy that you already opened your borders. Being one of the top tourist destinations in the region, we expect the influx again of our tourists. As such, the organization and re-activation of the tourist police is very timely. And absolutely, we have to assure them of their safety,” she said.
Governor Nelson Dayanghirang, who was represented by his office’s Chief of Staff Mr. Ednar Carlos Dayanghirang, lauded the convergence of efforts of the government agencies “for makes things better for everyone.”
“This effort exemplifies unity in actions, unity in vision, and most importantly the continuity of our endeavors. Today, the visions of our leaders are slowly being realized. We are now reaping the benefits of the vision and efforts of our leaders,” he said.
Gracing the activities also were Second District Representative Cong. Joel Mayo Almario, Provincial Tourism Officer Miguel Trocio, City of Mati Tourism Officer Dashiel Indelible, Jr., City Councilors Kobe Capina and Roger Pabio, Department of the Interior and Local Government Provincial Director Orle Cabaobao, City Health Officer Dr. Onjie Catbagan, and DOPPO personnel led by Provincial Director Police Colonel Joselito Loriza.
While the City Government of Mati is the first Local Government Unit in the province who launched the TOP COPS, other LGUs in the province are expected to follow suit. By: Neela Duallo/Photos by Eden Jhan Licayan