By Aaron Recuenco
Courses on disaster response will be retained in the training program of police recruits in order to maximize government’s manpower in times of calamities.
Director General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said that courses on disaster relief and response are currently being offered to all the mobile forces of the police force, including the Special Action Force and Public Safety Companies and Battalions.
“We need to have these personnel trained on this aspect because we are usually on the frontline every time there are calamaties,” said Albayalde.
But he admitted that there is no plan so far to expand the disaster response courses to include all police recruits.
On Tuesday, more than 4,000 policemen in Metro Manila and nearby areas were ordered to assist in relief distribution and rehabilitation in flood-stricken areas.
Albayalde said the policemen will actually be deployed in hardest hit area of the massive flooding caused by the heavy rains over the weekend.
Earlier, disaster response-capable police units such as the Special Action Force, Maritime Group, Highway Patrol Group, Police Community Relations Group, as well as the Regional Public Safety Battalions, were instructed to coordinate closely with local government units for enforcement of forced evacuation in some flood-stricken areas in Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog, and Central Luzon.
At the National Headquarters at Camp Crame, the PNP leadership has activated its National Headquarters Disaster Incident Management Task Group (DIMTG), an updated and enhanced plan of action of the PNP on disaster preparedness and response management in support to other concerned agencies.
“DIMTG supports the government’s disaster risk reduction and management efforts in accordance with the PNP Critical Incident Management Operational Procedures (CIMOP),” said Senior Supt Benigno Durana Jr., PNP spokesman.
Aside from the PNP, the military is usually the go-to agency for manpower and resources in disaster response.
A few years ago, top PNP leadership has included courses on disaster response for policemen.
Several police teams in Metro Manila were created as first responders in the event if calamities in the metropolis. The police search and rescue teams in Metro Manila, however, are now non-existent although policemen are usually on the frontline on disaster response.