By Martin Sadongdong
No major untoward incident was reported to the Philippine National Police (PNP) as an estimated 27 million students went back to schools for the opening of classes on Monday, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“The opening of classes [Monday] morning went smoothly with no untoward incidents,” said Police General Oscar Albayalde, PNP Chief.
The biggest challenge that the PNP faced on the opening of classes was ensuring the safety of the students and their parents or guardians, according to the country’s top cop.
“It’s the safety of the students and parents that went to the different schools,” Albayalde stated.
As an additional precautionary measure, Albayalde said the PNP deployed a total of 149,484 PNP personnel and force multipliers for the public’s safety.
This was comparatively higher than the 120,000 personnel the PNP earlier said would be fielded on the opening of school classes.
“This includes our stakeholders, our force multipliers like the barangay tanods and all civilian volunteers,” he explained.
The PNP personnel and force multipliers are expected to render back-to-school duties until early next week or when the situation in schools have stabilized.
The PNP Chief also disclosed that all other police operations, like anti-drug and criminality efforts, will continue even with the additonal duty of securing the public for the opening of classes.
“Even as we are busy with opening of classes, we assure the public that the PNP is committed to continue providing security coverage for public safety services, and implement various crime prevention operations,” he said.
Albayalde also said they have set-up police assistance desks (PADs) to address concerns of students and parents especially against those selling cigarettes or even illegal drugs in schools.
He recalled one incident where police apprehended a Grade 5 student for selling marijuana inside the premises of a school in Quezon City.
“It’s an isolated case but these are the things that we want to avoid. The first thing we did afte that, we coordinated with the different school authorities especially so with their security managers,” he said.
The PNP will also help school officials in addressing bullying among youths.
If the incident occurs inside the premises of a school, school officials usually are the ones responsible in dealing with it but the PNP earlier noted a rise in the number of online bullying incidents being reported to them.
The PNP recorded nine cases of online bullying during school year 2017-2018, which rose to 13 incidents last school year 2018-2019.
“With regards to online bullying, we have the Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) that’s why we encourage the students and parents to come to us, or to the nearest police station to report. They will be referred to ACG to verify the incident,” Albayalde said.