700 drones now serving as PNP’s ‘advance scout’

A TOTAL OF 700 unmanned aerial vehicle commonly known as drones are now being used as advance scouts of Philippine National Police regional and provincial mobile force battalions tasked to go after New People’s Army and other criminals and terrorists.

According to PNP Director for Logistics Police Major General Edwin C. Roque, the 700 units of rotary blade drones were distributed to the different PNP Regional and Provincial Mobile Force Companies after their operators underwent a thorough training.

“They are now serving in reconnaissance patrols, literally our men’s advance scout,” said Roque, a classmate from Philippine Military Academy ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986 of PNP Chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde who ordered the acquisition of the drones citing its effectivity in fighting Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists who laid siege to Marawi City in May 2017 triggering a 5-month gunbattle which left 978 terrorists, 168 government troops and 87 civilians dead and more than 1,400 soldiers and policemen wounded.

The Marawi City fighting which ended on October 17, 2017 also displaced nearly 1.1 million civilians.

The effectivity of state-of-the-art-drones in tracking down the movements and location of the terrorists in Marawi City prompted the PNP leadership to agree that it should already be a norm in police operations where they will serve as the police’s eye in the sky.

A drone is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard and is being operated with the use of a remote control. However, the PNP drones which were purchased at P81,655 each—the price much lower than the P116,000 PNP-approved bidding price are being controlled by commandos who have underwent training.

Gen. Albayalde in 2018 said their acquisition of 700 drones at a price of P56 million will make their fight against criminality and rebels more effective. However, he instructed all 17 Police Regional Office directors and chiefs of different PNP national operational support units to see to it that there will be an officer responsible for the use and maintenance of the drones.

Policemen assigned to handle these drones have undergone specialized training since a simple error may prove too costly and the drones would either be lost or totally damaged.

Drones have proven to be very effective in monitoring any activities in a given area including the presence of armed persons, whether they are members of the New People’s Army or Southern-based terrorists in the past prompting the PNP leadership to seek their procurement.

Gen. Albayalde said that in particular, he want drones to be fielded in areas where there are large NPA sightings specifically during actual clashes between the guerrillas and security troops.

The purchase of the drones come in wake of what senior police officials have described as a graft-free PNP bidding process since the start of the Duterte administration which has not only ensured that quality move, shoot, communicate and investigate tools and other equipment would be procured by the force but at the same time enable the force to save millions that can be used to buy what officers in round-the-clock patrol really need.