Police Senior Inspector Dennis S. Ebsolo is accompanied by danger and death on a daily basis—twin companions he has learned to live with during his 20 years in the service. “It’s part of my job,” says one of Metrobank Foundation’s 10 Outstanding Filipinos for 2018. “Marami akong nasagasaan in my work. I’ve made lots of enemies. That’s why I usually bring a gun with me.”
The commitment to his community and his country, however, outweighs this constant concern about life’s ephemerality. Rather, Dennis seeks to make the time given to him meaningful by finding ways to bring policemen and the public closer in understanding and bridge the yawning gap in perception.
As a licensed criminologist, Dennis is trained to analyze the roots of criminality and explain what factors in the environment could lead to a breakdown in keeping the law. His job was also to suggest the means to improve the situation.
While he was a station commander of Cagayan de Oro-Police Station 8 (CDO -PS8) in 2015, Dennis had his job cut out for him. Under his jurisdiction were 12 hinterland barangays with a total land area of 12,000 hectares. These were composed mainly of ascending regions, marshlands, farms, and virgin rainforests, and occupied by isolated tribes or lumads (indigenous people). He says, “It was very hard to patrol the area as many parts were not accessible, even if you were using a motorcycle.”
While pondering over this challenge, Dennis noticed native horses being used in the vicinity. This observation led to a lightbulb moment: “I remembered the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and thought, we can do it here, too,” he says, adding, “when I asked how far could the horses go, I was told ‘to very high places and they didn’t need much rest.’ Then, I knew I had found the answer to the problem.”
The Horse Before the Cart
The next hurdle was to find funds to acquire the horses, as the PNP certainly did not have the budget. Dennis tried his luck with the municipal government, but was unsuccessful, again due to meager coffers. He went to the association of Cagayan horsemen who, at least, promised to train the future Mounties.
Finally, the stakeholders— businessmen who had long wished for both a peaceful and prosperous community— donated enough to purchase four mixed-breed horses. Dennis cites well-known Cagayanon Ricky Roa and prominent developer Pueblo de Oro for their generous contributions. Dennis and three other colleagues learned to be comfortable on horseback after several tutorials by the horse club of Cagayan de Oro.
The initiative reaped several feathers under the caps of Dennis and his companions. According to the Metrobank Foundation citation “it was instrumental in the arrest of a total of 75 suspects of robbery and murder cases, several of whom had been in Cagayan de Oro’s most wanted persons list for a long time. It also led to the crackdown of illicit activities such as illegal mining and illegal logging operations; and the suppression of ridos (tribal wars) and other local conflicts in the area.
“Under PS/Insp. Ebsolo’s competent direction, CDO -PS8 accomplished the most number of buy-bust operations and identified drug personalities in the police station’s history. He and his troops were able to capture a total of 83 drug offenders— including elusive high-profile targets involved in the large- scale drug trade within the province—and seized millions worth of illegal drugs, high- powered firearms, and various explosives.”
Bridging the Gap
Aside from monitoring the situation in far-flung areas, Dennis was able to perform one more important task. He says: “We, the Police, could deliver to people in these places news and information about what was happening in the cities and other communities. We were successful in doing that. It also helped us bring our organization closer to the people.”