By Chito Chavez
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has pushed for the country’s local chief executives (LCE) to ensure an orderly and safe start of the 2019 school year in compliance with Oplan: Balik Eskwela (OBE) (Onwards: Return to School) campaign.
As the opening of school year 2019-2020 draws near, DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año reminded local officials of their sworn duty to maintain law and order, especially when the current school year opens on June 3, 2019.
“Local execs are expected to work closely with DepEd to ensure that the school opening is as smooth and orderly as possible so that both students and teachers will be inspired to embark on this new learning journey,” said Año.
To ensure the safety of students going to and from their schools, Año urged LCEs to deploy their local police and barangay force multipliers to be stationed near the school gates and along roads leading to schools.
“Dapat maging mapagbantay ang kapulisan at mga barangay tanod para bantayan at protektahan ang mga istudyante laban sa mga kriminal at mga mapagsamantala (The police and the village watchmen should be up on their toes in guarding and protecting the students against criminals and lawlessness),” he added.
OBE, which runs from May 27 – June 7, 2019, is DepEd’s annual initiative to engage agencies, organizations and other stakeholders in preparation for the coming of the school year.
It aims to address problems, queries, and other concerns commonly encountered by the public at the start of the school year and ensure that learners are properly enrolled and able to attend school on the first day of classes on June 3, 2019.
Through DILG Memorandum Circular 2019 – 78, the DILG Secretary also encouraged LCEs to convene their Peace and Order Councils (POC), Local Council for the Protection of Children (LCPC), and Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (LDRRMC) in preparation for the opening of the classes.
“Bukod sa kaalaman na kanilang makukuha, pinakamahalaga pa din ang kaligtasan ng mga mag-aaral kaya naman ang pakikipagtulungan ng POC, LCPC, at LDRRMC sa pangunguna ng mga LCE ay lubhang napakahalaga (Aside from the knowledge the students can acquire, it is important to ensure their safety that is why the concerted effort among the POC, LCPC and LDRRM with the LCE at the lead to maintain law and order is veryvital),’’ Año explained.
The DILG chief noted the LCEs are also urged to assist in providing information and quick response, mobilize barangays to clean/mark signage road networks leading to schools, and assist DepEd in preparing school facilities.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) ensured police presence and security patrols in schools and transportation hubs; deployment of road safety marshals; and information drive through quad media and distribution of safety tips and anti-criminality leaflets.
“The PNP is prepared to assist OBE. We will be establishing Police Assistance Desks in school campuses in coordination with concerned school authorities, Parents-Teachers Association, and security force managers, LGUs and respective barangay force multiplier, among others,” said PNP spokesperson Police Colonel Bernard Banac.
The PNP will also organize Non-Government Organizations and Civilian Volunteer Organizations to assist in providing security, traffic assistance, and other public safety services in coordination with DepEd and the LGU.
Coordination with school authorities and other agencies for the installation of CCTVs in strategic locations is also a priority of the PNP.