PNP beefs up commando counterterrorism capability 

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is beefing up the roster of its elite forces by taking in four more Special Action Force (SAF) class batches in its effort to strengthen its counterterrorism capabilities.

This developed even as the United States renewed its support to the government’s ongoing campaign against terrorism by contributing $2.5 million in assistance within the next two years to its counterterrorism efforts.

A statement from the US embassy said the assistance would be given to support “nonmilitary rule-of-law approaches” in addressing threats posed by terrorist threats and will complement Washington’s commitment in building the counterterrorism capabilities of the military.

The mission

PNP Spokesman Senior Supt. Benigno Durana Jr. said that no less than Director General Oscar D. Albayalde opened the SAF’s commando course for batches 81, 82, 83 and 84 at Fort Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa City, Laguna.

He said the chief of the PNP emphasized the need for the SAF to enhance its operational capability and efficiency in performing its mandate and functions.

“These additional forces will be utilized in curbing criminality and terrorism in line with our President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s order,” Durana quoted Albayalde as saying.

The PNP SAF is currently training 1,920 recruits in total to fill up five SAF battalions.

‘Whole-of-govt support’

The US assistance, meanwhile, will include “training, equipment and other support to build comprehensive law-enforcement capacity within a rule-of-law framework to deny terrorist operations, funding and movement.”

It would also be given to support efforts in the investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases and counter radicalization to violence and violent extremism.

The statement said that as an ally, the US “will continue to provide whole-of-government support and assistance to Philippine counterterrorism efforts” as both countries works together to address shared threats to peace and security.

Bolder

“WE must be bolder, tougher, stronger and faster than the evil elements we are fighting against. We thus need men and women in the police force who will live up to demands of the job and the expectations of the people we serve and protect,” Albayalde said.

The commando recruits will be trained for almost 20 months, and these include the Public Safety Basic Recruit Course, Public Safety Field Training Program and SAF Commando Course.

SAF said that the first two battalions will be activated in September 2019, followed by two more battalions in November 2019, while the last battalion would be activated in February 2020.

In February this year, the National Police Commission has approved Resolution 2018-027 “Strengthening of the PNP Special Action Force, which the Philippine National Police is tasked to form five  more Special Action Battalions.”

Entrapment ops

Meanwhile, two members of the Manila Police District’s (MPD) antidrugs unit were arrested by members of the Camp Crame-based Counter Intelligence Task Force (CITF) during an entrapment operation right inside the police’s headquarters in Manila on Thursday.

CITF Spokesman Chief Inspector Jewel Nicanor identified the suspects as PO1 Erdie Bautista and PO1 MJ Cerilla.

Four other colleagues of the suspects identified as PO3 Michael Chavez, PO3 Dindo Encina, PO1 Arcadio Orbis and PO1 Martinico Mario were also being sought.

Nicanor said the entrapment operation was borne by a complaint from a woman who claimed that her husband was arrested on Wednesday along with seven others by the six policemen in Santa Mesa, Manila,  during an anti-illegal drugs operation.

The policemen, however, demanded P100,000 in exchange for the liberty of those arrested, but the woman bargained and the policemen agreed for a P50,000.

During the operation, Nicanor said CITF operatives were able to rescue the arrested persons inside the police headquarters, and upon verification on their record, “there was no official blotter entry on their arrest and no spot report was submitted to TOC (Tactical Operation Center), MPD.”

 

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Rene P. Acosta covers defense, law enforcement and national security for the paper. He had written for a number of publications, including abroad before he joined BusinessMirror. His works had appeared in the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Asia Pacific Defense Forum, both in the US. He took up regional security with the International Visitor Leadership Program, US. He is currently the chairman of the board of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines which he had headed in 2009.

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