LINGAYEN, Pangasinan -- The school computerization program or the installation of computer units in some 50 computer laboratories in different public schools in Pangasinan may be put on hold if rampant school robbery incidents will not stop.

Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Calimlim Jr. said that Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro was alarmed by these robberies that he requested the assistance of the Provincial Government to stop these.

Calimlim said Luistro heard the report on robbery incidence through schools division superintendent Dr. Maria Celia Fernandez.

“If this (robbery incidence) will continue, there may be delay in the conduct of upgrade of computer laboratories in the province,” he said.

He said that Luistro also pointed out to him through a phone call that Pangasinan has 80 percent higher occurrence of classroom burnings as compared to other provinces in the country, but cited no date for this data.

In view of the concerns raised by Luistro, Governor Amado Espino Jr. called a meeting in the early morning of June 29 among heads of the different school divisions, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Bureau of Fire and Protection (BFP), and concerned community members in the province to discuss the issue.

In that meeting, it was confirmed that there were, indeed, many school robbery incidents, some of these were believed caused by outside elements while some intelligence sources pointed to "people within the system" who must have been involved, said Calimlim.

Calimlim also noted that some losses of computer units were not due to robbery but to some problems in the system of deliveries.

“There were reports that there may be lapses in the delivery system as the other computer units were delivered during wee hours when there is no guard around,” Calimlim said.

Heads of concerned agencies who attended the meeting have agreed to closely coordinate to assure security of school assets, even as school officials pointed to lack of funds as the reason for their inability to hire permanent security guards to watch their schools at night and during vacations.

“He (Luistro) is just awaiting our assurance that we will do our best to stop it (robbery incidence),” Calimlim said.

“The Provincial Government is taking an urgent action and taking the lead in guiding everyone concerned…to communicate and keep everyone involved,” he added. (PNA)