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All systems go for June 4 school opening

The government is all set for the nationwide opening of classes next week as it announced the various contingency measures of agencies to ensure the safety of students.

Malacanang said the “Oplan Balik Eskwela-Information Action Center” of the Department of Education (DepEd) will attend to the needs and queries of the parents and students during the back-to-school season in June. The center will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday, including weekends. It can be reached at (02) 636-8641 and

DepEd has enlisted the support of eight government agencies to form the backbone of the Oplan Balik Eskwela Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) that has been activated May 28 ahead of the opening of classes on June 4.

These agencies are the following: the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Philippine National Police (PNP), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

DPWH is tasked to supervise the completion of classrooms that are undergoing construction and clearing of road obstructions. The DTI is set to launch its Diskwento Caravan to provide parents of the discounted school supplies.

The DOTC is spearheading the Oplan Ligtas Biyahe for those students coming back from the provinces. Meanwhile, the MMDA has started making preparations to ensure that traffic will be manageable on the first day of school on June 4.

Education Secretary Brother Armin Luistro through DepEd Memo No. 83, s. of 2012 has also directed the Regional Directors and schools division / city superintendents to form the Local Information and Action Center (LIAC) to serve as information and complaints processing and routing mechanism during the back-to-school program for the school year 2012-2013.

The LIAC is also tasked to designate some of its personnel to oversee the regional / division and local concerns, set up hotlines to receive calls, text messages, fax messages and emails on complaints, requests and suggestions from parents, students and other concerned citizens and set-up help desks to accommodate walk-in concerns.

Meanwhile, the PNP is assuming the lead role in the public safety and law enforcement aspect of the back-to-school operations.

PNP Chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome has issued a memorandum mobilizing all PNP Regional Offices and National Support Units to perform specific tasks and coordinating instructions to implement a nationwide security and public safety plan to protect students from street crime and organized crime groups.

PNP Officer-in-Charge, Deputy Director General Arturo Cacdac Jr., thru the PNP Directorate for Operations, has issued a memorandum instructing all PNP Regional Directors to take proactive action to implement their respective security and public safety plans to ensure the safety of students.

An estimated 30-million students in different levels are expected to troop to school for the simultaneous opening of classes in both public and private learning institutions beginning June 4.

“If it becomes necessary, the PNP component of the OBE-IATF will conduct dry run of the traffic plan, troop deployment and beat patrol routes to familiarize units and personnel with individual duties and responsibilities,” Cacdac said.

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) was specifically directed to provide a security contingent at the DepEd Central Office in Pasig City in anticipation of possible protest actions by student organizations opposed to the K to 12 Program.

Local police units were alerted to mobilize foot patrol personnel for police visibility operations in school premises to prevent out-of-school youth and street gangsters from bullying students.

Local police units were also instructed to coordinate with concerned local government units for the strict implementation of safety regulations on public utility vehicles, school bus service and other conveyances that provide transportation services to students.

The PNP, in coordination with local government units will also strictly implement laws and local ordinances that govern the operation of computer gaming shops, recreation centers such as billiard halls and gaming establishments, including establishments that serve alcoholic beverages within the perimeter of school campuses.

The same memorandum also instructed local police units to establish an effective crime reporting system by posting police contact/hotline numbers in the vicinity of school premises.

The memo further directed all Police Regional Offices to ensure operational readiness of police units in responding to peace and order concerns including threats from criminal elements that may take advantage of the situation.

PNP Spokesman, Senior Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said Regional Directors were given discretionary authority to raise alert conditions as they deem necessary to effectively implement their respective security and public safety plans.

Of priority concern to the PNP are incidents of street crimes such as pickpocketing, snatching, swindling, robbery/hold-up, and street-level drug trafficking, Cerbo said.

He added that police patrols in the vicinity of schools will also be on the lookout for drug traffickers and violent street gangs that may infiltrate the ranks of students.