By Aaron Recuenco
The leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has ordered an investigation on the death of a trainee of its elite commando unit who reportedly drowned while on diagnostic combat in water training in Batangas.
PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said he has already talked to the director of the Special Action Force (SAF) and instructed him to review the implementation of the training programs for SAF recruits in the light of the death of Patrolman Manny Jose Baldonado.
Col. Edwin Quilates, director of the Batangas Provincial Police Office, said Baldonado was undergoing training with fellow SAF recruits in Barangay Baha in Calatagan town when he drowned at around 9 a.m. Sunday.
“The training instructors immediately conducted first aid before he was taken to the hospital but he was declared dead,” said Quilates.
Albayalde said that he wanted to know if there were lapses in the training program that may have led to the accidental death of Baldonado.
“We will look into it and we have to investigate it. If there are shortcomings, we have to improve to prevent the repeat of this incident,” said Albayalde.
The initial assessment was that Baldonado might have suffered a heart attack before he drowned, but Albayalde said he wanted to make sure of what really happened.
Part of the investigation, according to Albayalde, will be on the safety precaution aspect of the training program.
SAF commandoes are highly-trained and well-equipped unit of the PNP, being at the frontline on anti-terrorism and anti-insurgency operations of the police.
Recruits have to undergo rigid training and test missions before they are allowed to graduate and join the police elite force.
“We want to look at the safety procedures. Baka mamaya, we have to improve on the safety precautions that we need to put u there,” said Albayalde.