Laoag’s crime rates dip, thanks to mounted CCTV cameras

LAOAG CITY (Nov. 21)– – Long before the demand for CCTV (closed-circuit television) system got the media hype, this city has been successful, albeit quietly, in imposing its own “no CCTV, no permit” policy since 2009.

By way of an ordinance approved in June, 2009, the Laoag City government required all banks, pawnshops, money changers, financial companies and large commercial establishments to install CCTV camera systems in their workplace before they could secure their business permits. The law was implemented by the end of 2009, the period of renewal for business permits.

Councilor Joseph Tamayo, the author of the ordinance, said the policy initially got the cold shoulder from businessmen particularly those who didn’t have the budget for the gadgets.

“The compliance improved eventually after businessmen realized the importance of CCTVs in deterring robberies, thefts and other business-related crimes,” he said.

Tamayo noted that crime rate prevention and solution improved from 89 percent before the installation of CCTV systems to 95.16 percent after its implementation.

More importantly, Ramon Formantes, Laoag Information Officer, said the city government installed CCTV camera units around Laoag’s business district following a series of crimes including the assassination of young lawyer Eddie Gregorio in June of 2009 and frustrated grenade blast attack on  local newspaper columnist Steve Barreiro in July of same year.

Gregorio was gunned down along an intersection surrounded by fastfood joints in a commercial area on the night of June 12. The following month, a hand grenade was hurled at Barreiro’s home while he was parking his car in the driveway on the night of July 31. Barreiro’s home is located at the corner of a major city road intersection.

Because of the high-profile incidents at that time, Laoag Mayor Michael Fariñas immediately approved the purchase and posting of CCTV systems worth P2 million in five choke points in Laoag’s downtown area.

“We need those CCTVs installed immediately,” Formantes, recalling how the mayor prodded the Laoag police to identify the areas where CCTVs should be mounted,” said.

After the initial installations, 28 more cameras were mounted in strategic areas around the city including the Laoag market where 32 monitoring cameras are working in various sections.

The Laoag city hall has 40 cameras mounted in various departments for security and personnel monitoring. According to Tamayo, some village halls have their own CCTV monitoring systems. (PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)