Thursday, October 19, 2017
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Whip of corruption

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Whip of corruption

Now world famous for his startling language, the motor-biking Duterte Harley made the business sector sit up with the catchphrase “whiff of corruption.”

And it did not even have to be true!

Of course it was just his usual dramatic way of warning government officials that he was serious about his war against corruption, as he already fired dozens of bureaucrats and even a Cabinet member.

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Well, he even told us to shoot down corrupt officials, right?

And the most striking firings by Duterte Harley were those of his friends, supposedly due to rotten government deals.

Now, his most favorite agency, the Philippine National Police, recently came out with bidding notices for this deal worth P1.2 billion.

The mainstream media hardly bothered with the deal. It only came out in some item filed by the police reporter in some tabloid.

It was, in the journalistic parlance, a nonstory.

All right, P1.2 billion might be peanuts alongside the huge 2017 budget of the PNP at more than P110 billion, specifically designed for the war on drugs.

But, to my mind, the P1.2-billion deal would be crucial to this thing called disaster preparedness that has us worried sick, what with the strong earthquakes lately.

Really, the police must still keep peace and order during calamities, as the public for instance could panic in case of the “big one.”

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Based on the bidding notice, the PNP wanted to spend P1.2 billion for radios. Well and good. Then again the PNP specified the system it wanted as the DMR, or digital mobile radio, the standard developed in Europe.

That was actually the fancy name for conventional old-style two-way radio communication system. Each user, such as the police, operated its own system. And so they could not talk to other agencies.

From what I gathered, the DMR might have remained popular in the business sector in all these years of remarkable advances in communications technology, but public safety agencies abroad, particularly the police and the military, already shunned it.

The two-way DMR would be a huge drawback during disasters, just precisely when the police would need to contact the military or the hospitals or the Red Cross.

For many years now, the police in other countries actually preferred multiple-agency systems, with search and rescue operations in mind.

As a rule, the police force would want to communicate with the fire department, the military, and hospitals, not to mention utilities like the telephone and the electric companies.

From what I gathered, there were only two standards that were rated worldwide as public safety grade.

Guess what—the DMR was not one of them.

And those two multiagency communications systems were the choices of our own Presidential Security Group, plus public utility companies like the two LRT lines and the Edsa MRT, and even the giant Meralco.

Question: Did the PNP want to downgrade its communication systems?

Reports indicated that, as early as 1994, to prepare for the security-sensitive Apec summit held in Manila, with all those world leaders coming here, the PNP already started to look at public safety communication platforms.

In short, no longer the two-way style DMR! More than 20 years ago!

At that time, the PNP chose the popular APCO P16 (Association of Public Safety Communications Officials Project 16), which was its standard until 2010, during which the police spent huge amounts of our tax money on several upgrades.

But perhaps the APCO P16 had a drawback: It was the US standard.

Thus, the system was a proprietary system, and it tied down the PNP to the US manufacturer, which could also be bad, considering that there were other standards, even more modern ones, equipped with microchips and “cloud” technologies and all.

In 2015, the PNP thus decided to adopt a new standard for its communication systems to prepare for the bidding.

Surprise—the PNP changed the standard last year! The PNP went back to the two-way old style DMR.

Do you think that the PNP wanted to eliminate certain bidders?

Or maybe it only wanted to follow the trend in our neighborhood transport system, from motorized tricycles to “depadyak,” which we could hardly call “progress?”

Time to bring out the whip of corruption!

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TAGS: Duterte, Philippines
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