PBBM to PNP: Improve comms capability, interoperability

By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan and Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

February 15, 2024, 6:13 pm Updated on February 15, 2024, 7:36 pm

<p><strong>GOOD COMMUNICATION</strong>. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (left) and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. (right) attend a command conference in Quezon City on Friday (Feb. 15, 2024). During the conference, the President directed the PNP to establish a good communications system to further improve its interoperability. <em>(Photo courtesy of PCO)</em></p>

GOOD COMMUNICATION. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (left) and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. (right) attend a command conference in Quezon City on Friday (Feb. 15, 2024). During the conference, the President directed the PNP to establish a good communications system to further improve its interoperability. (Photo courtesy of PCO)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to establish a good communications system to further improve its interoperability.

Marcos gave the directive during the first PNP command conference held in Quezon City after PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. raised concerns over the reported low equipment capacity of the national police.

He said the PNP should be more strategic in its procurement of communications equipment to enhance its interoperability, especially in emergency and crisis situations.

“We have to be able to communicate to each other, lalung-lalo na dito sa mga (especially here in) disaster response. Kailangan alam natin kung ano ‘yung (We should be aware of the) situation on the ground. Kailangan ‘yung nandoon na pulis, makapag-report kaagad na may nangyari, ganito yung situation, ito ‘yung kailangan namin (They must be able to immediately report the situation and what they need),” Marcos said.

“We really need to come up with a plan to improve the communications capability of PNP. You cannot do your job without being able to communicate because mag-aantay kayo ng (you are waiting for) instructions, magre-report kayo sa (reporting to the) central office, etc.).”

Marcos told PNP officials to study the use of other communications equipment that may be suited for local situations, noting that access to technology nowadays is “getting cheaper and better.”

He also reminded them to make sure that all communication equipment is standardized to ensure interoperability across the country, adding that there should be a secure network to ensure better communication between units and offices within the PNP.

“So that’s something that, I think, we need to look into very well, kasi ‘yung fill-up mababa masyado (is too low). Even digital radio, tactical – hindi tayo umabot ng (we failed to reach) 40 percent in any of the categories,” Marcos said. “So, tignan ng mabuti (let’s see) what it is that we can do so we can provide our people with the best possible communications equipment.”

Marcos said the PNP may look into the equipment that is being used by its counterparts in other countries.

“Kahit ‘yung pulis malipat sa ibang lugar, pareho pa rin ang gamit, pareho pa rin ang procedure, pareho pa rin ang sistema (If a police officer is transferred to another place, the equipment, procedures, and system must be the same). So, I think that’s very important thing: there has to be consistency," he said.

As of Feb. 14, the PNP is still far from filling up at least half of its requirement for communications equipment, recording a 32.05 percent fill-up for digital radio, 33.98 percent for tactical radio, and 2.48 percent for satellite phones.

The PNP has yet to complete its purchase of 18 units of conventional repeaters amounting to PHP52 million and 80 units of satellite phones amounting to PHP6.5 million under its Capability Enhancement Program (CEP) 2023.

For CEP 2024, the PNP is planning to procure 2,039 units of body-worn cameras, one unit of digital trunked radio system, an additional 18 units of conventional repeaters, and 420 units of VHF low-band handheld radio, costing PHP585 million.

The PNP said the procurement under the CEP 2024 is delayed due to issues in the Terms of Reference.

It, however, assured the public that the issue is being addressed and noted that it is targeting to complete the procurement for CEP 2023 and 2024 within 2024, which will bring its fill-up rate up to 32.07 percent for digital radio, 39.17 percent for tactical radio, and 6.03 percent for satellite radio.

Anti-cybercrime efforts

While he lauded the PNP for its accomplishments to maintain peace and order in the country, Marcos also instructed the agency to beef up its anti-cybercrime efforts given the increase in cybercrime cases to 21,300 in 2023 from 13,890 in 2022.

He said the PNP should improve its prevention, detection and investigation of cases to combat cybercrimes considering the current sophisticated and technology-based crime modalities.

“So, we have to build our cybercrime unit from scratch. Now, we need experts to do this. Magaling ang Pinoy (Filipinos are good). So, for whatever reason, magaling ang Pinoy sa (Filipinos are good) IT (information technology). We seem to have a talent for it,” Marcos told the PNP.

PNP records from July 1, 2022 to Jan. 31, 2024 showed that online scams topped the list of cybercrime cases at 15,937, followed by illegal access at 4,821 and computer-related identity theft cases at 2,384.

The PNP has already proposed the establishment of a Cybersecurity Center for the monitoring, detection, protection and mitigation of and response to cybersecurity issues and incidents in the agency’s ICT infrastructure.

Lesser crimes, safer PH

Acorda, meanwhile, said the President is pleased with the PNP’s performance based on the latest data of crime incidents.

“Bumaba ang crime statistics, yung mga crime solution efficiency binibigyan diin ng pansin (Crime statistics were on a downtrend. He also took note of crime solution efficiency). He (President Marcos) wants us to really focus on our crime solution efficiency, which ni-recognize naman niya yung pagtaas ng crime solution efficiency (he recognized the increase in crime solution efficiency) as a result with the cooperation with the DOJ (Department of Justice), yung (the) Department Circular No. 20,” he said. 

The Department of Justice issued in March last year Department Circular No. 20 which required prosecutors to take an active role in the investigation of crimes, particularly during the buildup stage, and work with complainants and law enforcement agencies.

Acorda also said Marcos reminded them to ensure that their proposed amendments in the PNP Reform and Reorganization Bill would be included in the measure's final version.

“They are now giving me opportunity to review the Senate version before the bicam(eral). And they are asking me to write a letter to include all the provisions that we wanted rectified from this Senate version of the reorg(anization) bill,” he said.

Last week, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill (SB) 2449, which seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) 6975 or the Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990 and RA 8551 or the PNP Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998.

Marcos has also ordered the police force to speed up the investigation on the attack against a young doctor in Maguindanao, Acorda said.

Bangsamoro regional police office chief Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza said Pandag, Maguindanao del Sur Mayor Mohajeran Balayman facilitated the surrender of the two suspects in the ambush of Dr. Sharmaine Baroquillo.

The suspects aged 16 and 18 were accompanied by their parents when they surrendered, Nobleza added.

A hunt against a third suspect, a 16-year-old who served as the gunman, is now underway.

The suspects will be charged with attempted robbery and frustrated murder.

“The motive is robbery. From Datu Paglas, she was tailed by these three suspects riding on a motorcycle. When she did not stop, they shot her,” Nobleza added.

Barroquillo, 27, was fired upon by the suspects while traveling along a highway in Paglas, Maguindanao del Sur on the evening of Feb. 3.

Despite sustaining gunshot wounds on his lower back and arms, the victim was able to bring herself to the nearest hospital but hit a tricycle with three persons while on her way. (PNA)