Dial 117

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Monday, September 1, 2014


DO THE digits 117 make any sense to the ordinary Negrense? How about 911? Both figures mean the same.

Well, almost. In North America, call 911 from a landline or cellphone when faced with an emergency. In the Philippines, dial 117. For free unli calls.

Such an emergency call means to ask for immediate assistance from the police, fire department or ambulance for fires; a car crash, especially if someone is injured; a medical emergency, such as someone who is unconscious, gasping for air or not breathing, experiencing an allergic reaction, having chest pain, having uncontrollable bleeding, or any other symptoms that require immediate medical attention.

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And to call for police assistance when a crime is happening or has just been committed through both voice telephony and text messaging.

But how many of kasimanwas know whom to call? Not many, it seems.

Chief Insp. Ferjen Torred, of the Regional Intelligence Division-6 (RID-6), pointed out that the common security problem in financial institutions is that owners and managers are unaware of emergency hotlines in the Philippines.

Even among the educated Bacoleños—or Filipinos, for that matter—they know more of 911 than 117. Yet this official national emergency telephone number of the country has been operational since July 14, 2003.

Last week, the Bacolod Police Office met with owners, managers, and security officers of jewelry stores, pawnshops, lending institutions, and other financial institutions to tackle security and anti-crime strategies.

Most Filipinos own cellphones and can dial 117 in three steps in real time.

There is no excuse for not reporting an ongoing crime. Yet I wonder how many bother to call our police for assistance?

Still, since 117 as an emergency number is not registered on most mobile phone models or SIM cards, calls to 112 and 911 calls are routed to 117 call centers in the event of an emergency.

The RID-6 listed six robbery hold-up incidents involving financial institutions in Region 6, two of which happened in Bacolod.

The police service might have some credibility problems. Torred noted that financial institutions rely more “on their own security. They have security providers that we do not even know.”

I can understand the logic of multiple back-up systems for crime prevention.

But our first line of defense against criminal elements should be our own police forces. They are trained to prevent and combat criminals.

Besides, as the malls often say, we should get more value for our money.

Make that, our taxpayers’ money. Our citizens don’t shell out our hard-earned money so that police officers can play second fiddle to security agencies. For all its flaws, the PNP remains the country’s finest crime-fighting institution.

There should be more dynamic interactions between our police officers and the ordinary citizens. As its vision put it, “In the next 20 years, the Philippine National Police envisions to evolve into a highly-professional, dynamic and motivated organization working in partnership with a responsive community toward the attainment of a safe place to live, work, invest and do business.”

On the other hand, I disagree with Torred that the installations of closed-circuit television cameras could be a great help in crime prevention. Perhaps a wonderful tool for solving crimes by helping identify suspect during post-investigations and arrest suspects, but not a deterrence as the myriad of videos of crimes committed shown in YouTube and other social media.

Still and all, let’s define our priorities. First is police assistance in fighting criminal elements. The rest should be secondary or tertiary.

***

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 01, 2014.

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