EXACTLY 33 days before his 56th birthday, Philippine National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, is on the final leg of his regional visits to personally assess the peace and order situation in the areas he is visiting and at the same time directly issue his guidance to his men, the Journal Group learned.
Unless President Duterte extends his term of office, the country’s 23rd PNP chief will be retiring from the police force this coming September 2 having made a major dent on the country’s war on drugs and corruption.
Since last October, Gen. Gamboa has orchestrated the PNP’s massive crackdown on illegal drugs resulting in the seizure of more than P12 billion worth of shabu in the past six months alone, a proof that the country’s war on COVID-19 has not deterred the police from carrying out its battle against narcotics traffickers.
The big haul is considered a PNP record under the 4-year-old Duterte administration. Apart from the P11 billion worth of dangerous drugs, PNP agents across the country also conducted 25,612 anti-narcotics operations during the period resulting in the arrest of over 38,000 drug peddlers and users, scores of them considered as ‘high-value targets.’
The PNP Drug Enforcement Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Romeo M. Caramat Jr. has been largely responsible for the huge drug accomplishment. The PNP-DEG has gotten big help from the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Major Gen. Debold M Sinas, the Police Regional Office 3 headed by Brig. Gen. Rhodel O. Sermonia and the PRO4-A headed by Brig. Gen. Vicente D. Danao Jr.
Since surviving a helicopter crash in San Pedro City in Laguna last March 5, the country’s top cop had already visited the Police Regional Office 5 headed by Brig. Gen. Anthony S. Alcañeses in Bicol region; the PRO6 headed by Brig. Gen. Rene P. Pamuspusan in Western Visayas, and the PRO1 headed by Brig. Gen. Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr. in Ilocos-Pangasinan region.
He said that he is visiting PROs to have a first-hand look at the situation in the regions and at the same time ‘talk to his men’ and directly issue his command guidance to the field units.
The PNP chief said he has also taken the opportunity to formally unveil some of the newest PNP infrastructures and equipment in the regions and to personally take part in launching some locally-initiated PNP programs and projects.
“Overall, I noted with satisfaction the performance of the Police Regional Offices in the PNP’s ongoing campaigns against crime, illegal drugs, corruption and terrorism,” he said.
The PNP chief said the more salient points of his guidance to his men in the region are the following: First, Ensure that all personnel manning Quarantine Control Points shall strictly observe the PNP Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards when on duty, especially when dealing with women and the elderly to whom they are expected to exhibit the highest standards of conduct and behavior;
Second, actively assist in the strict enforcement of public health protocols imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force and the Department of Health and ensure implementation of local ordinances that require strict observance of minimum health standards on the wearing of face mask, physical distancing, crowding in public places and public transportation, and other acts deemed as threats to public health;
Third, Provide full protection to personnel engaged in law enforcement operations against threat groups, organized crime groups and criminal elements, as well as personnel engaged in public safety operations in Quarantine Control Points, especially those detailed to assist local health authorities in locating and contact tracing of confirmed COVID cases and;
Fourth, to cascade to lower units the guidance of President Rodrigo R Duterte to seize every opportunity to be on the offensive against illegal drugs, and redirected combined operational focus on both illegal drugs and loose firearms whenever possible.
True to his word, Gen. Gamboa last July 17 rode a police helicopter on his way to the PRO1 headquarters in San Fernando City in La Union.
Two small PNP helicopters safely brought the PNP chief and his companions including the PNP Directors for Comptrollership, Logistics and Personnel and Records Management to the PRO1 headquarters and back to Camp Crame, the Journal Group learned.
The PNP chief earlier said all police helicopters have been cleared to fly anew more than three months after they were grounded following the March 5 crash in San Pedro City in Laguna which nearly killed the top cop and three other police generals.
Gen. Gamboa said they are fully confident of the skills of their pilots and the airworthiness of their helicopters despite the unfortunate incident last March.
To prove his point, Gen. Gamboa three weeks ago said he will make his 1st police helicopter ride on July 17 after that near-brush with death.
Currently, the PNP maintains a fleet of Airbus H-125, Bell-429 and Robinson R-44 multi-role police helicopters.