(Photo courtesy of PNP Public Information Office)

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday launched its 'Bisikleta Iglesia' campaign to ensure the safety of the Catholic faithful who would visit churches this Holy Week.

PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Maj. Gen. Edgar Alan Okubo and volunteer bicycle enthusiasts led the activity in places of worship and convergence within the region, including the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Malate Church and the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran.

The "Bisikleta Iglesia," patterned after the "Visita Iglesia" (visit to churches) allows police officers to conduct focused patrolling and reach areas where it would be difficult to use patrol cars but still ensure a faster response than patrolling on foot.

This is part of the PNP's strategic anti-criminality program to keep the public safe.

Okubo assured the public that cops will be visible and felt within the streets of Metro Manila during the Lenten season.

"Our citizens can rely on police officers whether on bicycle, on foot, or on mobile patrol cars," Okubo stated.

The PNP personnel manning Police Assistance Desks will also be put in conspicuous places and always ready to help the community and respond to any eventuality that may arise.

"We are continuously implementing different approaches and methods in order to maintain peace and order within our community, and this activity is just one of our efforts in ensuring the safety of our fellow Filipinos during the Lenten season. We are reminded of the importance of faith and the sacrifices that our forefathers made to uphold it. Let us continue to deepen our spiritual connections as a community and work towards a more peaceful and just society,” Sermonia added.

The "Bisikleta Iglesia" program is not only a means to enhance police presence but also a way to promote physical fitness and environmental awareness through the use of bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation.

“As we go through these challenging times, it is also important for us to take care of our physical and mental health. ‘Bisikleta Iglesia’ not only allows us to visit different churches but also promotes good health and camaraderie among our officers,” Sermonia said.

With the success of the "Bisikleta Iglesia" program, the PNP is expected to continue conducting similar activities to ensure public safety and improve community relations in the future.

The PNP continues to encourage its officers to maintain a healthy lifestyle while serving the public with honor, excellence and dedication.

Southern Police District (SPD) director Brig. Gen. Kirby John Kraft and his command group participated in the nationwide conduct of ocular inspection in the different churches and places of convergence within the southern part of Metro Manila.

The SPD covers the cities of Makati, Pasay, Taguig, Parañaque, Las Piñas and Muntinlupa as well as the municipality of Pateros.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Joel Doria, director of the Police Regional Office Mimaropa joined the nationwide simultaneous kick-off the "Bisikleta Iglesia" at the Calapan City Police Station in Oriental Mindoro on Thursday.

Doria explained that the initiative was adopted from the Marinduque Police Provincial Office's proactive policing strategy where PNP personnel conduct bicycle patrolling at different churches and areas of convergence during the Holy Week observance.

"Napakaganda ng stratehiyang ito dahil mas naipaparamdam natin ating presensya hindi lang bilang mga alagad ng batas kundi pati bilang mga mananampalataya (This strategy is very good because we make our presence felt not only as law enforcement officers but also as believers)," Doria said in a separate statement.

Part of the activities under the said initiative consists of intensified police visibility in all churches and places of convergence through bicycle patrolling to secure the public and preempt criminals during the Holy Week celebration.

The Mimaropa top cop likewise urged all police units in the region to exercise proactive policing measures to ensure public safety and security this season of Lent.

"Layunin ng PNP na maging crime-free ang buong paggunita ng Semana Santa sa buong rehiyon ng Mimaropa. Iparamdam at ipakita natin sa buong komunidad na ang buong kapulisan higit lalo dito sa Mimaropa na tayo ay laging maasahan, madaling lapitan at handang maglingkod sa anumang oras, panahon at pagkakataon (The PNP's goal is to make the entire celebration of Semana Santa crime-free in the entire Mimaropa region. Let's make the entire community feel safe and show that the entire police force especially here in Mimaropa that we are always reliable, approachable and ready to serve at any time)," said Doria.

The PNP has earlier placed all police units under heightened alert from April 2 to 11 to ensure the maximum availability of personnel and resources for law enforcement and public safety operations in observance of the Holy Week. (PNA)