PNP allots P1.135B for better air, sea capabilities

THE Philippine National Police has allotted roughly P1.135 billion to procure additional aircrafts and patrol boats needed to help counter the presence of international drug traffickers, kidnappers and other lawless elements taking advantage of the country’s largely unguarded vast coastlines and territorial waters, PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said.

The money - P1,134,388,799.38 to be exact — will  also be used to improve the PNP’s response in any disaster or emergency situation taking place in the local seawaters, the country’s top cop told the Journal Group.

“We’re beefing-up our air and sea assets to help guard against intrusions by international drug smugglers, kidnappers, pirates, poachers and other criminal elements taking advantage of the country’s unguarded long sealanes and coastal areas,” Gen. Albayalde said.

Apart from the PNP, only the Armed Forces with its Philippine Navy and Air Force and the Philippine Coast Guard have ships and patrol boats and planes and helicopters which however are not enough to guard the country’s vast irregular seawaters and coastal areas.

Both the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the National Bureau of Investigation are yet to acquire airplanes, helicopters and speedboats that could be used to monitor the presence of ‘mother ships’ carrying huge volume of drugs passing thru Philippine waters and intercept them at all.

The best that the country’s armed services can do when drug smugglers using powerful speedboats and high-tech ‘mother ships’ are already passing through Philippine waters is to seek the help of foreign law enforcement agencies including the United States Drug Enforcement Administration so that the drug smugglers could be apprehended if possible.

To help watch the country’s 36,000-kilometer-long coastlines against illegal intrusions, the PNP chief said that the PNP capability enhancement program has programmed more “floating and flying assets” for the PNP Maritime Group and the PNP Aviation Security Group to boost police response against criminal activities in the country’s waters.

He said the move is also aimed at boosting police response against international drug smugglers including those behind the recent recovery of nearly P1 billion worth of cocaine in the eastern shores of the Philippines, believed to have come from vessels in the high seas of the Pacific.

More air and maritime assets also mean a more effective police response in disaster or emergency situations in the sea.

According to Gen. Albayalde,  the PNP Bids and Awards Committee has approved the procurement of 28 units of high-speed tactical watercraft amounting to P336,000,000. So far, seven of the units have been delivered to the PNP and are already being used by the police.

Another 18 more units of similar high-speed tactical watercraft are programmed under the 2019 procurement program as additional equipment for maritime operations, police visibility in the shorelines, and maritime law enforcement and public safety operations.

At present, the PNP fleet of watercraft includes 107 police rubber boats, 19 coastal craft, 25 fast boats, four speed boats, and 10 gun boats or dauntless boats being used by 17 Regional Maritime Units, three  Maritime Special Operations Units, and other police
maritime stations nationwide.