SAN CARLOS CITY—Cattle rustling has long been a major problem in this largely agricultural city, and the new police chief here is aiming to put a stop to the problem with his “Oplan Rodeo”.
Supt. Angeles Genorga, who assumed post as city police chief last month, told The PUNCH last week that Oplan Rodeo is a three-pronged approach with prevention activities, aggressive police operations, and legal offensives.
Genorga said part of the preventive measures is frequent patrols and spot checks in the barangays to gain the confidence of residents.
“The impact of cattle rustling is tremendous especially to a lowly farmer who depends on his cattle for the tuition fee of his children and all of a sudden his animal is stolen,” Genorga said.
On police operations, combined forces recently encountered a group of cattle rustlers in nearby Bayambang town that led to the gun slaying of one of the suspects from Barangay Balite Sur in San Carlos, known as the haven of cattle rustling in Pangasinan.
Genorga noted that cattle rustling, which affects 35 percent of the 86 barangays in the city, has itself become an industry with one generation passing on the illegal activity to the next.
“It has become a vicious cycle and it needs one generation to stop or remove it,” he said.
Genorga explained that cattle rustling involves “spotters” who identify the target households, a group that slaughters the stolen cattle and sell the meat, another sells the cattles alive, and yet another acts like a kidnap-for-ranson gang by calling the owner and asking to pay a ransom to get their animal back.
“It’s difficult to stop if we cannot get the primary suspect,” he said.
There have been several previous attempts to put a stop to cattle rustling, including the program of the late mayor Jolly Resuello to provide alternative livelihood to identified rustlers and the sending out of “love letters” by Senior Supt. Percival Barba, former police director of Pangasinan, to suspected cattle rustlers to encourage as well as warn them to mend their ways.
These tactics, however, have failed to end the persistent criminal activity.—Eva Visperas