COTABATO CITY, June 5 — Except for the perennial problem of lack of classrooms and heavy traffic that mar first day of classes, Monday’s opening of classes in most public elementary and secondary schools in Mindanao was generally peaceful.

Sr. Supt. Victor Valencia, Cotabato City police director, said no untoward incident related to class opening was reported as of 12 noon Monday.

The presence of police officers in all public elementary and high school campuses made the first day of classes smooth, he said.

In Davao Region, the presence of police teams manning Police Assistance Desks (PADs) in all schools in the region has helped the orderly opening of classes in all public schools in the area.

This is one of the measures put in place by Police Regional Office (PRO) XI to ensure smooth opening of classes at all levels in Davao Region.

Johnny Balawag, Cotabato City schools division administrative officer, said the “Brigada Eskwela” has been very effective in preparing schools for students and teachers, as well as other stakeholders.

He said some elementary schools in Barangay Rosary Heights 9 were temporary put on hold due to floods that submerged the school grounds.

In Maguindanao, classes also went on smoothly as scheduled except in at least three towns which are still submerged in floodwaters.

Stagnant water that runs knee-deep have affected class opening in the towns of Kabuntalan, Datu Salibo and Sultan sa Barongis, three low lying towns that regularly experience flooding.

Across Region 12, Regional Education Director Arturo Bayocot reported that 100 percent attendance was initially reported.

But he admitted that some pupils need to use non-traditional classrooms so students could still attend classes today. Lack of classrooms remained a problem that DepEd is trying to address.

Bayocot said a “day one lesson one” policy is in effect on the first day of school year 2017-2017.

“All education stakeholders in Region 12 came prepared and ready,” he said in a radio interview in Cotabato City, adding “No Collection Policy” is in effect.

DepEd-12 has listed 1,097,468 students both in elementary and high school.

PRO-XI spokesperson Chief Inspector Andrea de la Cerna, on the other hand, said they are also coordinating with other local government agencies in the region to ensure an orderly and peaceful opening of classes.

“As the lead agency in charge of crime prevention, security and peace and order, Police Assistance Desks in all schools region-wide, to include airports, seaports, transport terminals, malls, business centers and in all other areas of convergence will be established,” De la Cerna said.

She said there are mobile and foot patrols conducted by police personnel in the region to guarantee the safety and security of all major routes, especially within school vicinities.

“Motorists, private school bus and especially public utility vehicle drivers were advised to observe the prohibition on overloading public utility vehicles, to avoid accidents and ensure maximum safety of students,” De la Cerna said.

She also reminded parents and students to be cautious and follow the do’s and don’ts during the opening of the school year.

The guidelines include: refrain from communicating or transacting with strangers; ostentatious display of jewelry; bringing a large amount of money; posting personal details on Facebook and other social media entities; going/walking out alone; and using cellular phones especially texting while crossing streets, she said.

She added that with the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, police in Davao Region will continue to uphold human rights and perform official duties within the bounds of the law.

“We also encourage the public to be vigilant and support the police through sharing of vital information relative to peace and order to nearest police station,” De la Cerna said. (Edwin Fernandez and Alexander Lopez/PNA) ´