PHILIPPINE National Police chief General Debold M. Sinas said more world-class protective equipment for his men engaged in tactical operations are coming to offer them protection as they perform their day-to-day duties and are confronted by heavily-armed and merciless criminals.
The 25th PNP chief has additional high-quality body armors and combat helmets needed not only to protect police officers and men tasked to go after criminal and terror rings in the country but also those who are manning checkpoints to arrest the presence of deadly loose weapons and explosives on highways and streets, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
“We’re further improving our move, shoot, communicate and investigate capabilities, most importantly our critical needs,” he said.
Among those being targeted for procurement by the PNP Directorate for Logistics are Enhanced Level III Combat Helmets, Level III Tactical Vests with Level IV Two Upgraded Plates, Waistcoat Vests and Level III-A Undershirt Vests.
Bulletproof vests, Sinas explained, are particularly needed by policemen manning checkpoints in the country since these officers are regularly exposed to the threat posed by heavily-armed lawless elements.
He cited the case of a PNP Highway Patrol Group operative, Master Sergeant Julius Arcalas who was recently shot and killed by an M-16 wielding dismissed Philippine Military Academy cadet in Cavite City.
The suspect identified as Methusael Cebrian ignored repeated requests by the team of Arcalas to produce his vehicle’s registration papers since the SUV had no license plates. The suspect later began shooting, hitting Arcalas before he was gunned down by the latter’s colleagues.
PNP-HPG director, Brigadier Gen. Alexander C. Tagum said Duterte committed to enhance their capability after hearing of the tragic news.
“He (Duterte) took notice that bulletproof vests, body cameras, and long firearms are the immediate needs of the HPG to fully capacitate its operatives,” said Tagum.
Top PNP officials said everybody must understand that each time police flag down occupants of a car or an SUV for a routine check, they don’t know if the persons they are about to check are armed or not.
In case the persons are armed with automatic rifles or pistols and start panic firing, only their body armors will help protect them from bullets in case they are not immediately able to run to their mobile cars to seek cover. This is what happened in Cavite City exactly.
There were instances in the past wherein policemen who accosted car-riding persons were met with automatic gunfire and were killed or maimed in the process.
At present, the PNP’s percentage fill-up of Level III Enhanced Combat Helmets is 70 percent. When it comes to Level III-A Tactical Vests with Two Upgraded Level IV Plates, the percentage fill-up is 70 percent. On the other hand, the percentage fill-up for Waistcoat Vests is 85 percent while the percentage fill-up for Level III-A Undershirt Vests is only 12 percent.
As of this year, the equipment percentage fill-up for Anti-Riot Helmets is already 99 percent while the percentage fill-up for Body Protectors is 72 percent.
PNP officials involved in the procurement program assured that these equipment have passed strict quality tests. The vests and helmets passed world-class tests and that during actual testing, they were checked for bullet penetrations or perforations as part of the PNP requirement.
The importance of having quality bullet-proof vests once again was showcased in the case of a PNP Special Action Force commando who luckily cheated death during a counter-terror operation in Polomolok, South Cotabato two Fridays ago which left six suspected members of a terror ring dead.
During the clash, a bullet from an M-16 automatic rifle hit the upper right chest area of Corporal Ronald Kevin Corros of the SAF’s 43rd Special Action Company, said PNP-SAF director, Major General Bernabe M. Balba.
“Fortunately, the bulletproof ballistic plate saved the life of Cpl. Corros as the bullet failed to penetrate the vest,” Balba told the Journal Group.
The PNP leadership said they are very thankful that Duterte is ‘very very supportive of the PNP’ and is seeing to it that they would be fully-equipped as they battle drugs, criminality and corruption.
Sinas said they will pursue their modernization plan and will be prioritizing the acquisition of necessary and basic equipment and infrastructures.
Officials have maintained that a graft-free PNP bidding process over the past four years of the Duterte administration 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 it to save millions that can be used to buy what officers in round-the-clock patrol really need.