La Trinidad, Benguet – – This group of women volunteers in La Tinidad, Benguet make change by helping in the upkeep of peace and order in their respective communities in the municipality.
Mayor Romeo Salda said the women’s brigade here made an impact in maintaining peace and order and in curbing illegal activities in the communities.They help in effecting the liquor ordinance, ward off minors in bars, look after minors loitering during curfew hours, and check out students in computer shops during school days.
Recently, their tasks have been expanded. They are now deputized in carrying out the anti-smoking program of the local government and the regulation of the “momma” or chewing of betel nut.
They have contributed in effecting the anti-smoking ordinance which earned the town the Red Orchid Award for two consecutive years (2017 and 2018) for promoting smoke-free environment, said Salda.
Because of their dedication and performance doing volunteer work, the local government through the Sangguniang Bayan, crafted an ordinance institutionalizing their existence as one of their partners in maintaining peace and order particularly in the implementation of local ordinances.
“We see the value of women doing the roving due to the respect accorded to them,” said Salda.
Former Mayor Edna Tabanda narrated how the women’s brigade evolved. It used to be a civic group organization (CVO) adopting the principle of neighborhood watch.
Organized during her term, the idea was akin to the Koban system in Japan which is deep-rooted in local communities with policemen going around the neighborhood, said Tabanda.
In its early years, the women’s group in the town which used to be under the supervision of the Mayor’s Office was organized only in the big barangays namely Balili and Pico with two groups for each per barangays. Back then, Tabanda noted the enthusiasm of the women volunteers.
When Tabanda came back as the town’s chief executive in 2013, the women volunteer group was under the Office of the Municipal Police Station headed by Police Chief Inspector Byron Allatog.
It was now more cohesive. Taking inspiration from the highly successful women’s brigade of Bontoc, Mountain Province whom they had a chance to visit, observe, and be immersed with, the La Trinidad women volunteers reinvigorated themselves.
Former Chief of Police Radino Belly said that during his term, he witnessed the passion and eagerness of the women brigade especially in the dealing with those involved in the liquor business and those apprehended under the liquor ban ordinance of the municipality.
To date there are around 174 members of the La Trinidad Women’s Brigade but only 115 are actively doing patrol around the locality. Barangays Balili, Pico, Betag, Poblacion, Puguis, Wangal, Lubas, and Tawang have organized their respective brigade.
Sharing her experiences during their night rounds, Women’s Brigade federation president Mila Bingcola said, “When we do our rounds in the bars with the police, the customers sometimes have apprehensions towards uniformed personnel. But with us, there is respect for the mothers.”
Lubas Coordinator Lydia Paatan shared that to help address the problem of pupils and students who skip school, they conducted daily “ronda” (rounds) around the schools last year.
Flora Tubal, Principal of the La Trinidad National High School, shared about students who skip class hop from one computer shop to another. She is grateful that the members of the women’s brigade are there to help in bringing the stray students back to school.
Betty Pediten from barangay Tawang, said an added task is to check the permits of stores selling cigarettes and liquor.
Tabanda also shared her experiences with them in the early years. They entered in one of the bars with a mix of people including the youth. A member of the brigade sat down and talked to them and approached them in a nice way giving piece of advice to one of the drunken youth who outpoured her family problems.
“Sometimes they say it pays if there are women because they listen and give motherly advice especially the youth,” Tabanda quipped saying they are very effective in talking to people during the rounds. “Their roles in society should be recognized,” she added.
The women volunteers are given lectures, workshops and briefings to keep them updated of their roles in peace and order. (JDP/SCA-PIA-CAR, Benguet)