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After death of call center agent, Cebu City to shuttle employees to work

MANILA, Philippines – The Cebu City government, in partnership with the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, will soon run its own shuttle system to bring call center employees to and from IT Park, where most BPO companies in the city are located.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña posted on his Facebook page on Saturday, October 6, that clearing operations have already begun on the lots owned by the province and the city, to be used for bus and motorcycle parking.

Osmeña announced plans for the shuttle system on Friday, October 5, two days after the robbery and murder of a call center agent on Wednesday, October 3, outside a pizza restaurant in Cebu City.

According to a SunStar Cebu report, the victim, 37-year-old Loraine Temple, was on her way home to Lapu-Lapu City after her shift at around 3 am Wednesday when she tried to fight off motorcycle-riding robbers. She was shot in the chest.

Following Temple's death, Osmeña called for an emergency meeting with representatives from 38 BPO companies located in IT Park to discuss how to keep their estimated 100,000 employees safe.

In a phone interview with Rappler, the Cebu City mayor said the shuttle system would "confine activity to certain place" where the workers' safety can be monitored. This, he said, is because call center agents are awake at times when most crimes happen.

Osmeña said the shuttle buses will be equipped with CCTVs. He will also ask for BPO buildings to have surveillance outside their buildings.

Logistics

The city-owned lot in front of the Waterfront Hotel across from IT Park will be used mainly for employees who drive motorcycles so they can park for free, while the lot owned by the province inside IT park will be used for the parking of shuttle buses.

While the city and the BPO sector are still fleshing out the logistics of the shuttle system, Osmeña said that it will definitely be set up based on consultation with the BPO employees.

"We will go step by step," Osmeña said. "We will have a strong consultation system using social media. We will identify and quantify who needs to be secured."

He said they will try to figure out which areas to prioritize based on where most employees live.

"According to a survey done, 50% of the call center agents are renting. I'm presuming that they are renting in areas around IT Park like [barangays] Luz, Kasambagan, [and] Apas," Osmeña told Rappler.

"We will ask the people who are all into social media – we [will] ask them to identify themselves and where to put the bus stations in Cebu City."

In addition to the shuttle system, the city will also look at creating volunteer organizations in the barangays to help workers get to their rides safely.

"For the highly problematic areas, we will create a volunteer neighborhood watch that will also be able to escort those who work at night (nurses, BPO employees, etc.) through these areas," Osmeña said in his Facebook post.

"We can't wait for the police to do something," he told Rappler. "They're in charge [of safety] right now [but] we're getting into trouble."

Rise in killings

Since July, Cebu City has been dealing with a rise in unsolved killings, many of them with suspected drug links.

On October 4 alone, at least 14 people were killed in Metro Cebu, GMA News Online reported. Nine were killed in police operations in Talisay City and Cebu City, while 5 others were killed by unknown assailants in a mountain barangay in Cebu City.

In a previous interview with Rappler, Osmeña alleged that the rise in killings "definitely started when [the new police] came in the picture," referring to new Cebu City police chief Senior Superintendent Royina Garma and Central Visayas Chief Superintendent Debold Sinas.

Osmeña then said that was the reason why the city government is trying to come up with more creative ways to secure its constituents. – Rappler.com

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.

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