PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief, General Debold M. Sinas, yesterday said more world-class armor vests are coming to the country next year as part of their program to equip their operatives with quality body protection they need each time they patrol the streets and go after armed and dangerous criminals.
According to the top cop, the procurement of more bulletproof vests will protect uniformed policemen in the field specifically those engaged in anti-narcotics raids and buy-busts as well as those involved in anti-criminality and anti-insurgency campaigns in the countryside.
“For years, we have been acquiring police equipment that would be used by our personnel in the field while fulfilling their duties as law enforcers. And this time we will acquire more bulletproof vests to ensure the safety of our personnel whose lives are in peril in times of police operations,” Sinas said.
The PNP chief pointed out that “armed criminals are prepared to confront for a shootout against our police operatives. Wearing armor vests will save lives of the lawmen during a firefight to prevent possible loss of life and injuries.”
“As part of my core guidance, all personnel on operations, such as patrol, anti-illegal drugs, anti-kidnapping, and others, must wear bulletproof vests, and other protective equipment,” he said.
Sinas cited one classic example of how a bullet-proof vest saved the life of a police officer who confronted an armed criminal in Bicol region.
He recognized the gallantry and bravery of Police Staff Sergeant Alex T. Bayona, a member of the elite PNP Special Action Force assigned at the SAF’s 94th Special Action Company who was saved by a Tactical Gear Front Hard Ballistic Plate vest during an armed confrontation against a notorious gun-for-hire and New People’s Army hitman in Labo, Camarines Norte last December 16.
Based on the assessment of Dr. Harold Mejia of the Camarines Norte Provincial Hospital, Bayona sustained a 2nd-degree burn on the left deltoid and circular shape swelling anterior chest as suspect Jonel Alcanzo fired at him with a caliber .45 pistol.
The brave SAF trooper is now recovering in a medical facility as advised by the attending physician.
Then there is the case of Corporal Ronald Kevin Corros of the SAF’s 43 Special Action Company who luckily cheated death during a counter-terror operation in Polomolk, South Cotabato last month 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 Corros but fortunately, the bulletproof ballistic plate saved the life of the SAF commando as the bullet failed to penetrate the vest.
“Despite the risks that our police operating teams have been facing, we are relentless in accomplishing the mission and duties of the police force. No amount of danger will hamper us in keeping our communities safe to live at all times,” Sinas said.
PNP spokesperson, Brigadier Gen. Ildebrandi N. Usana said they will procure more bulletproof vests once the 2021 budget is approved.
“Kulang pa po at mahal din sila (bulletproof vest). Most likely with the approval of our 2021 budget, more vests may eventually be among the needed equipment sa uniform ng mga pulis ang magkakaroon ng procurement,” Usana said.
During the Labo, Camarines Norte encounter, two suspects identified as Alcanzo and Joseph Piad were killed. Bayona cheated death after a bullet fired by one of the slain suspects hit the front of his bullet-proof vest and ricocheted causing lacerations on his left shoulder.
“Another PNP-SAF commando was nearly killed by armed and defiant criminals. Luckily for him, he was wearing a body armor which failed to penetrate his chest,” said Sinas.
PNP-SAF director, Major Gen. Bernabe M. Balba said members of the 94th Special Action Company of the SAF’s 9th Special Action Battalion headed by Lieutenant Colonel Zaldy C. Fuentes provided tactical support to officers of the Police Regional Office 5 who were about to serve a search warrant for illegal possession of firearms issued against the two targets.
Alcanzo was described as a member of the New People’s Army using the nom de guerre ‘Ka Bunso’ since 2018.
The search warrant for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013 was issued by Judge Arneil Dating of the Labo, Camarines Norte Regional Trial Court Branch 64.
During the operation, Alcanzo fired a shot at the SAF officers hitting Bayona’s vest and prompting the latter to return fire killing him on the spot.
The 2nd suspect later identified as Piad also exchanged fire with the SAF commandos while hiding in a room and was eventually shot dead by the commandos.
Alcanzo yielded a caliber .30 Carbine rifle with a magazine containing 30 live ammuntion, cal. .45 pistol with a loaded magazine, a bandolier with five M-16 magazines and a hand grenade.
On the other hand, Piad yielded a cal. .38 revolver with several bullets and an improvised cal. .22 rifle.
A 3rd suspect identified as Nicolas Placio was arrested during the operation. He yielded a loaded cal. .38 revolver.
The suspects were identified as members of the Alcanzo Crime Gang operating in Camarines Norte specifically in the municipalities of Labo and Paracale.