POLICE officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa yesterday cancelled the leaves of absence of all policemen as he placed the entire police force under full alert status days ahead of the Undas holiday and as a pre-emptive measure on the possible spillover of hostilities after ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a US military strike in Syria last Saturday.
Gamboa said he cancelled all leaves to guarantee the 100 percent presence of personnel to perform police functions.
“Effective today, I am placing the entire Philippine National Police on full alert to ensure the availability of all personnel and resources for law enforcement and public safety operations ahead of the traditional All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day holiday this coming weekend,” Gamboa said.
The PNP will field at least 35,000 policemen from Police Regional Offices (PROs) and National Support Units (NSUs) to perform security and public safety duties this weekend when an estimated 15 million people are expected to troop to 4,677 public cemeteries and memorial parks, and 76 columbaria around the country during this traditional day of remembrance for the departed.
Gamboa said PROs and NSUs will mobilize more than 99,000 force multipliers from local government units, civic action groups, civilian volunteer organizations and motoring clubs to man Police Assistance Centers (PACs) in providing road assistance and public safety services.
Gamboa said security coverage will also be laid-out in all 83 airports and domestic air terminals, 333 seaports, 808 inland bus terminals, and 59 train stations in different parts of the country to assist travelers.
“The key element in this security operation is police visibility, considering both its crime deterrent and reassuring effect on the public. This is the general guidance to all Police Regional Offices and National Support Units. My outstanding order to all units and personnel is to remain visible at all times along travel routes, transport terminals, public cemeteries and other public places to establish police presence in these areas,” he said.
He said local police units are also alerted to be prepared to address possible security and emergency situations in public cemeteries such as missing persons, medical emergencies and accidents, traffic gridlock, over-crowding and congestion, stampede, petty crimes, illegal parking and vendors, swindlers impersonating as priests and long-lost relatives, and possession of deadly weapons and prohibited items.
He said he will also make walk-thru inspections in select places of convergence to assess the readiness of PNP units.
“But even as these security and public safety efforts get underway, aggressive anti-illegal drugs operations will continue without let-up against possible pot sessions and drug trafficking activities in public cemeteries and memorial parks this weekend,” he added.
In a radio interview last Saturday night, Gamboa said he will declare a full alert status today (Tuesday) but decided to raise the alert level one day ahead of his original plan to prepare his men for any eventuality due to the killing of Baghdadi.
Gamboa reiterated that there are no threats monitored by the police intelligence community.
“In general, there is no terroristic threats as of yet but the PNP is prepared for that. I gave the leeway to our ground commanders to determine whether they are going to beef up their security depending upon the situation that arises in their respective AORs (areas of responsibility),” he said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency conducted surprise drug testing on employees of bus companies in Pasay City and Quezon City as part of efforts to ensure the safety of passengers traveling to the province for the Undas holiday.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said this year’s Oplan “Undaspot” was conducted to ensure that bus drivers, conductors, helpers, and employees of bus companies have not taken any illegal substances which may compromise the safety of passengers.
“The possibility that bus drivers use illegal drugs to counter fatigue and keep them alert cannot be discounted,” Aquino said.
Aside from drug testing, PDEA also made a sweep on passengers’ belongings to check if anyone of them were transporting illegal drugs to the provinces.
Together with representatives from the Land Transportation Office and Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board, PDEA conducted the tests and K-9 sweeping at the JAC Liner bus terminal and Philtranco, both located in Pasay City; and Partas and Five Star, both located in Cubao, Quezon City.
Based on PDEA’s records from last year’s Oplan “Undaspot” (October 29-31, 2018), Oplan Huli Week (April 15-16, 2019), and Oplan “Harabas” (March 29, 2019 and May 16, 2019), a total of 19,087 drivers, conductors, helpers and employees of public transport services and terminal underwent the drug test.
A total of 213 employees or 1.11 percent tested positive for shabu and marijuana use.
On the other hand, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT) inspected bus terminals in Cubao as part of its preparation for the ‘Undas’ break.
Among the bus terminals inspected were Five Star, Victory Liner, Jam, and Jac Liner, among others.
MMDA’s Health and Environmental Protection Office (HEPO) together with I-ACT likewise checked the compliance of the bus terminals to Executive Order No. 26 or the nationwide smoking ban and other policies for public utility vehicles (PUVs).
MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim reminded the public that smoking in the premises of bus terminals is prohibited.
The official added that the signages will serve as a reminder for the public that smoking is also prohibited inside the PUVs.
Officials likewise inspected the terminals’ compliance with Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 2014-01 or the “Revised Schedule of Fines and Penalties for Violations of Laws, Rules and Regulations Governing Land Transportation” of the Department of Transportation.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued the pay rules that shall be in effect during the observance of All Saints and All Souls Days, both of which have been declared as special non-working holidays.
Based on Labor Advisory No. 11-2019, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III reminded private sector employers of the proper payment of wages for said holidays on November 1 and 2.
For work done during the special non-working holiday, he/she shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his/her daily rate on the first eight hours of work; and an additional 30 percent of his/her hourly rate on the said day for overtime work.
If an employee works on a special holiday that also falls on his/her rest day, he/she shall be paid an additional 50 percent of his/her daily rate on the first eight hours of work; and an additional 30 percent of his/her hourly rate on the said day for overtime work.
On the other hand, if the employee did not work, the “no work, no pay” policy shall apply.