DESPITE last Thursday’s helicopter crash which nearly killed the country’s top “Mamang Pulis,” the Philippine National Police (PNP) is still being called upon to acquire more air assets.
In fact, there are no ifs and buts about the importance of acquiring more airplanes and helicopters for the 190,000-member PNP, which is civilian in nature but national in scope.
As well-meaning Filipinos, we cannot overemphasize the need to counter the presence of criminals, like drug traffickers, pirates and poachers, taking advantage of our long coastlines.
The government needs additional air and sea assets to be able to patrol the country’s largely unguarded vast coastlines, territorial waters and thousands of islands and islets.
Apart from the national police agency, only the powerful Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) have ships, patrol boats, airplanes and helicopters.
At present, the PNP, headed by Gen. Archie Francisco F. Gamboa of Class 1986 of the Philippine Military Academy, has nine air assets composed of eight rotary-wing and one fixed-wing aircraft.
Both the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the law enforcement arm of the Dangerous Drugs Board, are yet to acquire air and sea assets.
The best the country can do when international drug smugglers using powerful speedboats and “mother ships” pass through Philippine waters is to seek the help of foreign law enforcement agencies.
Last year, the PNP allotted some P1.135 billion to procure additional aircraft and patrol boats needed to help counter the presence of international drug traffickers and other lawless elements.
Thus, the PNP leadership deserves the support of all sectors of Philippine society, including the ordinary citizens, as it exerts its best efforts to beef up its air capability.