Duterte approves PNP’s P33-B SMART Policing program

(1st of 2-parts)

IN what has been aptly described as a tremendous coup or an unexpectedly successful achievement by the Philippine National Police headed by Director General Oscar D. Albayalde, President Duterte has approved a six-year P33-billion PNP SMART Policing proposal which aims to fully modernize the 190,000-strong organization as it continues its mission to keep the streets safe by thwarting and solving crimes.

The main man behind the SMART Policing program, Director Cesar Hawthorne R. Binag of the PNP Directorate for Information Communications and Technology Management said the SMART program is an acronym for S-ecured, M-obile, A-rtificial Intelligence-Driven, R-eal Time, T-echology in the organization.

Patterned after world-class police agencies across the globe specifically the United States, France, United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore and Australian police forces, the Smart Policing initiative of the PNP will support all its units nationwide when it comes to building evidence-based, data-driven law enforcement tactics and strategies which have been proven to be effective, efficient and economical.

A member of Philippine Military Academy ‘Hinirang’ Class of 1987, Binag led the PNP-DICTM in looking for a master development plan which will benefit the force and the public it serves. “We wanted a thorough plan, one which has a strategic direction and come up with our Digital Transformation program otherwise known as SMART Policing,” the official told the Journal Group.

The program will solidify all smart policing initiatives of the PNP starting from its Silo System, said Binag who bade goodbye to his long-time dream of becoming the director of the elite PNP Special Action Force when President Duterte gave his nod to the SMART policing program after the latter presented it to the former Davao City mayor during a joint PNP-Armed Forces command conference at the Presidential Palace last December 12.

“For a number of times, the presentation was canceled and when it did push through, I was required to limit my presentation to only 5-minutes. I know I exceeded it, I felt I did poorly but I prayed a lot and the President listened intently and gave his green light to the program,” Binag said.

“To God be the Glory. Nobody really thought that President Duterte will approve it,” he exclaimed.

For Binag, there are a number of questions begging to be answered when he presented the SMART Policing plan. The main questions are the following: “Why does the PNP need it? Why embark on an ambitious digital program? How did the PNP respond to it? How did the President and the other leaders respond to it?

He said that one thing is sure: the President and the others who were present during his presentation fully appreciated it.

“We want to sustain our initial gains in the war on drugs, crime, terror and corruption and in order to achieve it, we really need to adapt to the digital age, in particular seek the support of the President. We were very lucky he immediately approved it knowing fully well the challenges of the digital era,” Binag said.

According to the official, they have studied the processes on how modern police forces worldwide are delivering their services. “We’re greatly behind them, let’s say the U.S., United Kingdom and Japan police agencies. For one, when it comes to the PNP Directorate for Personnel and Records Management, we have to know their strength and weaknesses when it comes to accounting all police personnel,” he said.

The official said they also want to prioritize police intelligence under the program. “We believe that intelligence work is the driver behind all these police programs,” he said.

Binag explained it’s the reason why they have come up with technology-based solutions to address the problem. “We even studied the competence of our people and made the PNP Internal Affairs Service as a core unit in this SMART policing system,” he said.

The PNP-DICTM director’s presentation to President Duterte includes a report on the PNP’s performance and compliance to the Chief Executive’s orders from Day 1 of his administration as well as the initial gains, the challenges in sustaining the gains, the challenges of the digital era and the digital policing and average annual investment of other countries.

The idea is very clear: how to further reduce incidence of crime and how to further improve the PNP performance when it comes to solving them, he said.

The six-year project being overseen by PNP Deputy Chief for Operations, Deputy Director General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa will see the PNP investing in the acquisition of new tools and other equipment as well as the upgrading of already existing equipment, meaning it would see the replacement of already obsolete equipment.

As envisioned by the PNP leadership, the program would enable the PNP to upgrade its tools used in the search and seizure of digital evidence, thus necessitating the setting-up of mobile laboratories to facilitate the collection of evidence from large-scale computer systems.

At the same time, it would oversee the upgrading of computer systems and equipment used for technical inquiries and online investigations, help the capacity-building of the PNP when it comes to addressing cases of different transnational crimes including the most common street crimes by introducing new capabilities to analyze and store seized pieces of evidence.

A case in point is the digital transformation of the Malta Police Force. In 2017, the Malta police purchased equipment used during the search and seizure of digital evidence from the scene of the crime.  This equipment includes two  vehicles, external hard disk drives and digital cameras.  The vehicles purchased were  kitted up as “mobile laboratories” using forensic equipment purchased throughout the remainder of the project.  The aim of this investment is that digital evidence found at the crime scene is preserved, collected and transported in a forensically sound manner in order to ensure its validity and integrity throughout the criminal justice process.

In 2018, the Malta police focused on the setting up of a new office space and digital forensics laboratory that will be housed in the new office space  designed specifically for this purpose. The Malta police project funded IT equipment used for internet investigations, forensic workstations and other digital forensics equipment that will be used both at the digital forensics laboratory  as well as at the crime scene.
(To be concluded)