by Mary Rose B. Manlangit
The Sangguniang Baranggay of Batong Malake is now becoming stricter in its implementation of peace and order measures. This September, seven sets of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras will be installed in Umali Subdivision, El danda, Agapita, Raymundo and F.O. Santos. This is Phase 2 of the camera system installation project according to Brgy. Captain Nilo Lapiz. The 1st phase was already done during the first quarter of this year.
The installation will run from first week up to the third week of the month. A team from Tremendous Communication Incorporated (TCI) will install the seven CCTV cameras.
The CCTV system project
The goal of the CCTV system project is to ensure the peace and order situation of Batong Malake, Councilor Alan Leron explained in an interview.
Organized by the Sangguniang Baranggay, the project was already planned in 2010 but materialized only this year. Councilor Leron said that the arrangements with the bidding corporations and fund raising for the project were the reasons of the delay.
Councilor Leron said that contrary with what most barangay residents assumed, the CCTV systems were installed not just because of the various incidents that happened in UPLB such as the death of UPLB students Given Grace Cebanico and Rey Bernard Penaranda. He explained that it was already planned even before these happened. However, he admitted that the incidents triggered the faster implementation of the project.
On the other hand, Councilor Janus Lapiz said that among all the barangays of Los Baños, Batong Malake was the first to implement CCTV system. They are hoping that they would serve as an example for the other barangays to also include CCTV system in their projects.
According to Councilor Lapiz, the Phase 1 of the project had a budget of Php 500,000 where a complete unit of CCTV camera approximately costs Php 65,000 – Php 70,000. The budget included a high definition television monitor and antennas. “Now,” he said “the same amount will be spent for the Phase 2 project.”
The bidding for the Phase 2 of the project was already completed. Currently, legal arrangements with the winning bidder and equipment testing are being done to ensure the efficiency of the camera units.
The main source of fund for the project is the Baranggay Development Fund under the Peace and Order Committee of the Sanggunian. It accounts for the 20% of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) coming from the national budget.
CCTV cameras, the eyes of the barangay
“With the CCTV cameras, conflict on vehicular accidents were solved, masterminds of crimes such as budol-budol gang cases were arrested and street fights among teenagers were responded,” Alan Mabolo, a tanod of the barangay said.
Mabolo said that he and the rest of the tanods shift schedules to watch the CCTV monitor in the barangay almost all day and all night.
“In the monitor,” Mabolo said, “you can see almost everything that people do in the areas. In fact, every night we see teenagers dating in dark areas.” He said that they could respond more quickly because they can now see the place of an incident via the CCTVs rather than just relying on verbal descriptions via two-way radio.
Councilor Leron said that the CCTV cameras also helped in easing the flow of traffic. Traffic build-ups are prevalent along Lopez Avenue to UP gate. With the help of CCTVs, traffic enforcers could devise ways on how to moderate the flow of traffic congestion.
He also narrated that last July 21, a mother complained that their laptop was stolen in their house by three men believed to be members of akyat-bahay gang. She was able to identify the men with the help of the CCTV. The complaint was immediately coordinated with the Philippine National Police (PNP) Los Baños. Thus on July 26, when one of the suspects was seen walking along the 7eleven store in Agapita, the police arrested him immediately.
Councilor Leron said that the CCTV also helped a lot in the arrest and eventual imprisonment of the drunk driver who hit the UPLB BS Nutrition student Nhelette Gonzales last August 7, 2013 along Lopez Avenue. He said that there was a concerned resident who tipped the barangay right after the accident. To identify if the car would turn towards Agapita or F.O. Santos Avenue, they played back the CCTV. There they have seen a fast moving car turning to Agapita. With this, the PNP Los Baños and the barangay tanods were able to strategize how to arrest the driver by analysing his possible exit points.
Information on the system project is not widely disseminated to the barangay residents because this would defeat the purpose of hidden cameras. However Councilor Leron said that sooner people will learn about it and in turn it will serve as a preventive mechanism for the residents not to do crimes and be wary of their actions.