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DAVAO CITY, Philippines: Residents of Davao City are being monitored constantly by highly advanced surveillance cameras set-up by authorities, as part of a law and order policy the Philippines’ leading presidential candidate wants to roll out nationwide.
Hundreds of cameras mounted around Davao keep close watch on the city streets 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The cameras have advanced automatic vehicle identification and face recognition technology, while the operators monitor all things from suspicious activity and crime to jay walking and traffic offenses.
It is part of president Rodrigo Duterte’s dedicated but hardline approach to eradicating crime in this Mindanao city. And he wants to take the strategy national.
Duterte has a fierce notoriety, a reputation he has crafted over decades in power in Davao. He has promised a “bloody” future for the Philippines with plans to rid the country of crime within months.
His “kill them all” policy towards criminals has many fearing or hoping that a far tougher approach towards crime across the country is imminent. Duterte has proclaimed he would kill tens of thousands of criminals and dump their bodies in Manila Bay within months of taking power.
But Duterte’s rhetoric – which is wildly popular in Davao – is at odds with the professional and highly advanced law enforcement units put in place and funded by the city government.
Hundreds of cameras are mounted around Davao, monitoring for all sorts of crime and traffic problems.
The surveillance cameras form just one element of an astounding and unprecedented level of commitment and investment in policing, ambulance, fire and anti-terrorism infrastructure and personnel.
“Nowhere else has anything else like this, we are second to none,” said Emmanuel Jaldon, the chief operating officer of Central 911, essentially the city’s own integrated emergency unit that exists in addition to the normal services funded by the national government.
Its headquarters contain an impressive array of state-of-the-art equipment ready to deploy, including two full fire units, a squadron of ambulances including a colossal mass trauma ambulance bus, search and rescue vehicles and a K9 unit. There are 560 personnel – it is a level of resources like nowhere else in the country.
“It is the manifestation of an influx of continuous investment. We have grown significantly, there are several facilities being built, infrastructure is cropping up left and right in the city,” he said.
“It is the safest city in the country, in the entire Philippines.”