315 PNPA cadets, training staff to undergo COVID test -- Gamboa

PHILIPPINE National Police chief General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa yesterday said that 315 PNPA cadets and at least 20 training staff will undergo PCR testing to ensure they are COVID-19-free in the aftermath of the consecutive deaths of two students last week.

The PNP chief said that although it appears that the deaths of the two cadets were due to heatstroke, they are in the process of reviewing certain protocols to ensure the safety of the PNPA students and their training instructors.

The PNP chief said that he has learned that PNPA cadets are being told to do a 1.3-kilometer run every day compared to the 5-kilometer run which students of the Philippine Military Academy like him have endured or are still continuing to endure.

The top cop has suspended all PNPA physical activities in the aftermath of the twin deaths and said he will only give the go-signal for its resumption once he is already satisfied with the changes.

Gen. Gamboa said he was to meet with PNPA director Major Gen. Jose Chiquito M. Malayo and National Police Training Institute director Maj. Gen. Ramon L. Rafael to discuss their training program and look into ways to avoid COVID infection in their training camps.

“Probably, lots of things will be postponed, including the recruitment with the things that is happening now,” he said in referring to the need to adjust their scheduled August 15 oathtaking of new police recruits. 

Last Friday, Cadet Fourth Class Jiary Jasen Papa died reportedly due to electrolyte imbalance,  making her the second to die while undergoing training at the country’s premier police training institution last week.

A PNPA report said that initial medical findings showed that the cause of her death was electrolyte imbalance or hypokalemia or low  level of potassium in blood.

Around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, a classmate of Papa identified as Cadet 4th Class Kenneth Ross Alvarado reportedly died of heat stroke while participating in their  mess formation inside the Sta. Rosa City-based police training institution.

Alvarado suddenly collapsed while participating in the evening mess formation 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and was immediately taken by his fellow cadets to the Academy Health Service for treatment before he was referred to Qualimed Hospital in Sta. Rosa City after he complained of having difficulty in breathing.

According to PNPA spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Byron Allatog,  all activities of the PNPA Class 2020 were temporarily stopped for further evaluation and assessment.  All members of the Class were only required to do their own exercise inside their billeting areas after finishing their lectures.

Allatog said that the medical records of both Papa and Alvarado have been requested from the PNP Health Service for a thorough assessment. The remains of the two were also subjected to a swab test as part of the PNPA effort to prevent COVID infection in the Academy.
The PNPA spokesperson said that since the death of Alvarado, road runs are conducted only in the morning. The cadets are required to do stretching exercises only in the afternoon.       

The PNP Health Service also sent a medical team to the PNPA headquarters to evaluate the status of the new cadets. All were required to fill out  individual medical history  to determine if there are concerns that need immediate attention.

They were also authorized to contact their parents to assure they have no medical history issues.

Following the death of the cadet, Malayo said they will implement additional measures during the initial stage of training of members of PNPA Class of 2024.

The measures include requiring the cadets to mandatorily drink 10 glasses of water and provision of two canteen cups of water in bandolier which will form part of the cadets’ uniform.

Malayo said drills will also be momentarily held in the PNPA’s shaded areas and progressive exercises will be in two parts” three rounds of 600-meter run around the parade ground during the 1st day and four rounds of the same run after three days.

The PNPA plan to have the cadets run 10 rounds of exercise until their Incorporation Day.

The PNPA Class of 2024 has 306 members composed of 254 males and 52 females who underwent a reception last July 3.