By MARTIN SADONGDONG, Aaron Recuenco
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has already recruited nearly 1,500 rookie policemen who will be trained to be part of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) unit.
Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, PNP spokesperson, said the recruited rookies will be part of the five new SAF battalions that President Duterte ordered for an all-out war against communist rebels and terrorists.
“As of Feb. 22, the SAF has already recruited 1,423 (rookies) and so kailangan pa namin (we still need) a little over 1,500 to complete the 3,000 quota for the five (new) battalions of the SAF,” Bulalacao said.
With an estimated 600 members per battalion, the 3,000-strong new SAF commandos expected to be formed will be part of the 15,000 recruits of the PNP for 2018, Bulalacao said.
“The PNP has a regular recruit quota of 10,000 rookies every year…and we also have an average of 5,000 recruits to fill up the attrition quota for this year,” he explained.
“Over and above this 15,000, we have started recruiting 3,000 police applicants for SAF. Ito ‘yung in-announce ng Pangulo na mag-oorganize ng another five battalions ang SAF (Over and above this 15,000, we have started recruiting 3,000 police applicants for SAF. This was the announcement made by President (Duterte) to organize another five SAF battalions,” he added.
Upon completion of their target recruits, the estimated SAF unit personnel will grow to 7,200 or 12 battalions from its current number of 4,200 or seven battalions nationwide, Bulalacao said.
The SAF is PNP’s “cream of the crop” unit, according to PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, whose mission is to conduct operations as a Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) anywhere in the country, specifically in situations with national and international implication in the areas of hostage rescue; commando-type unconventional warfare; search and rescue in times of calamities and disasters; civil disturbance management during national emergency; and other special operations.
The boosting of SAF unit came amid Duterte’s recent pronouncements of an all-out war against communism and terrorism, and the petition of the Department of Justice before the Manila Regional Trial Court to declare New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorists.
Meantime, the PNP chief is seeing a downtrend in the number of policemen that is being linked to various illegal activities.
And dela Rosa attributed the decrease to the aggressive response of the PNP leadership to the complaints being sent even if they are only via text messages (short messaging system) and social media.
“I am happy to report that at least we are seeing a downtrend on the abuses of the policemen. I cannot say that we are already perfect because there are still a few who are doing illegal activities but at least the number went down,” dela Rosa said.
The official used the number of complaints being sent to the PNP’s anti-scalawag unit, the Counter-Intelligence Task Force.
From at least 100 daily, the number of the complaints being received by the CITF went down by more than 60 percent.
Dela Rosa said the remaining erring cops might have been scared by the series of arrests made by the CITF that include junior-ranking officers.
More than 60 policemen have been arrested by the CITF since it started in March last year. The unit was created after the controversial kidnap-slay of South Korean business executive Jee Ick Joo who was killed right inside Camp Crame in Quezon City.