By Aaron Recuenco
The Philippine National Police (PNP) will be sending more than 1,000 policemen to Taal Volcano eruption-affected areas in Batangas and Cavite to assist in the evacuation and other disaster response activities amid the continuous threat of a hazardous eruption.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, the Chief Directorial Staff of the PNP, said the 1,017 policemen will serve as replacement for the hundreds of PNP personnel who have been on-duty round-the-clock in Batangas and other affected areas since the eruption occurred on Sunday.
Eleazar said 324 of the policemen will be deployed in Cavite, while 693 will be sent to Batangas.
“In places where people would not dare to go, we rise to take the challenge of going there because this is what we do, this is what we are as members of the police force,” said Eleazar in a speech during the send-off ceremony at Camp Crame.
“This is the time for you to show what you are trained for, what you are capable to do in the name of peace and order, of public service,” he added.
The policemen are members of the Reactionary Standby Support Force (RSSF) which was mobilized by PNP Officer-In-Charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa. The RSSF is under Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo.
Eleazar said that Gamboa approved the deployment as the latter deemed it necessary for the policemen earlier deployed in Cavite and Batangas to take a rest after a toxic work in the past days.
Eleazar said that most of the policemen who would be replaced will be given the opportunity to visit their families and relatives who were also affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.
“Most of the policemen who were tapped for disaster response since Sunday are also local residents of affected areas in Batangas and Cavite. They also have affected families and relatives but they chose to serve because of the call of duty,” said Eleazar.
“I believe they also deserve a break to be with their families, to attend to the needs of their affected families and relatives,” he added.
Eleazar said that those who would be deployed on Friday belong to half of the number of the RSSF, which is composed of policemen doing administrative works at Camp Crame.
They will stay in Batangas and Cavite for three days and will be replaced by the other half of the RSSF on Monday, according to Eleazar.
“In the few past days, we became witnesses on the hardship that our kababayan in Batangas are going through and the sacrifices of our fellow policemen assigned there to assist those in need and to put them in safety in television news and social media posts,” said Eleazar.
He stressed that some of the policemen even went to the extent of rescuing and evacuating large animals.
“This is one of those rare moments when we go beyond our duty to serve the Filipino people. Let us take this opportunity as a chance to do our share in helping our fellow Filipinos, the very people we vow to serve and protect,” said Eleazar.
The official said that the policemen will assist in evacuation, patrol of areas placed under lockdown and assist in relief and other disaster-response efforts in compliance with President Duterte’s order.
“The areas declared under lockdown should also be secured for the peace of mind of the local residents, for them no to go back because of the risk of imminent eruption anytime,” said Eleazar.
Eleazar said that the policemen who would be deployed in Cavite and Batangas were given face mask and goggles for their protection.