Phillips chides PM; declares PNP has answers

Phillips chides PM; declares PNP has answers

Senior staff reporter

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

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OPPOSITION Leader Dr Peter Phillips on Sunday chided Prime Minister Andrew Holness for suggesting that the country's crime problem has evolved beyond the capacity to contain it.

Holness told a meeting with stakeholders on crime last week that investment is needed to rebuild the country's national security infrastructure, in order to contain crimes involving external forces that are exploiting the infrastructure, which has broken down over the years.

The prime minister said that many of the crimes in Jamaica are being fuelled by these external forces, creating a need for more investment, over time, to build out the security architecture. He also added that national security needed the level of budgetary allocation that can reflect its importance in keeping Jamaicans safe.

But Dr Phillips took the prime minister to task Sunday while addressing candidates and prospective caretakers/candidates from the People's National Party's (PNP) Regions Two and Three at the Mico University College in Kingston.

“The fact of the matter is the Government has been in place for four years, crime has reached unprecedented levels during this time. States of emergency have been declared but murders continue unabated, and then we hear the prime minister says, 'Well, you know, the problem is beyond us,” the opposition leader reacted.

“But worse, he says there is a problem with foreign influences trying to exert [their] presence [over] criminals. I don't disagree, but the fact of the matter is either the prime minister doesn't know and, therefore, hasn't prepared himself, or his memory is very, very short.

“Who remember the time when cocaine traders from Colombia were resident on our north coast, buying up our properties, taking over the entire north coast? A PNP Administration had to roll it back, when our planes were being seized...

“His memory must be short, and I know he was in the Parliament. How could he forget when talk about Jamaican 'yardies' and Jamaican 'posses' was the only thing around in the world — 'yardies' in the UK and 'posses' [in the United States], including the Shower Posse — were making agencies of the US Government, like the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] have to go into their bag to find out what was happening?

“Foreign influence over Jamaican criminal gangs is not something new. And if the prime minister thinks it is, that is probably why they have prepared no security plan that the country can line up behind for the whole four years that they have been in office,” Dr Phillips said.

He also noted that the reason repeatedly given is that the police don't have good intelligence or they are not using the intelligence, or they are using faulty intelligence, and then the US Government, more or less, explains that one of the tools for gathering information intelligence has been left in abeyance.

Dr Phillips applauded the stakeholder group that met with both himself and Prime Minister Holness last week on the issue of crime.

He noted that they have prepared a plan, “the sort of plan that the country can line up behind”. However, he said that what they are doing is, “quite frankly”, a task of Government.

“[What] any self-respecting Government should be doing [is] to identify all the elements that need to be addressed: Legislative matters, social intervention matters,” he noted.

“In that area, the Government has also dropped the ball, because there was a programme left in place called the violence interruption programme, to go into communities with high violence and the JLP Government [allowed] the resources to lapse. So, we don't have the social interventions in the high-violence communities any more.

“And then you talk about they have had too many crime plans, and you have had none. In every single area of national life that is in crisis — whether it be crime, whether it be the absence of economic growth, whether it is poor governance — the JLP Government has failed and failed miserably, and the people of Jamaica need to understand that we represent the answer,” Dr Phillips concluded.

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