Despite its ongoing modernization, the Philippine National Police still lacks 55,000 policemen to secure about 90 million Filipinos, PNP chief, Director General Raul Bacalzo, said yesterday.
On top of that, the 132,000-strong police force lacks firearms needed for law enforcement operations, he added.
Bacalzo, who spoke at the Joint Provincial and City Peace and Order Council meeting at the Social Hall of the Provincial Capitol, however, said he was happy that local government executives in Western Visayas, particularly Bacolod City and Negros Occidental, are helping their police forces, with logistical requirements.
Police records show that 50 percent of the country’s policemen have no long firearms, and have a 44 percent shortage on short firearms.
If not for the local government units, through the Peace and Order Councils, Bacalzo said the PNP would surely be facing great difficulties in accomplishing their tasks.
Senior Supt. Ricardo de la Paz, officer-in-charge of the Bacolod City Police Office, yesterday told Bacalzo that the administration of Mayor Evelio Leonardia has committed to provide P1 million worth of equipment to the BCPO Special Weapons and Tactics unit, on top of P500,000 for their training.
Senior Supt. Allan Guisihan, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, said the local government of Calatrava also purchased pistols and shotguns for the town police force.
Local governments of San Carlos, Silay, Bago, Victorias and E.B. Magalona also purchased firearms for their police stations.
Ideally, a police officer in the Philippines should have both the short and long firearms for law enforcement operations and implementation of security measures, according to local police experts.
To address the issue, Bacalzo said the PNP is authorizing the police to use their personal firearms so long as these are registered.
“This is what we are doing in the PNP to solve the problem," he said.
In order to address the shortage of manpower, Bacalzo said they are tapping barangay tanods and Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team members in visibility operations.
He suggested to Chief Supt. Cipriano Querol Al-Haj, regional police director of Western Visayas, that BPAT members and barangay tanods be trained on how to conduct basic crime investigations and preserve crime scenes.
The standard ratio of police officers to population is one per 500 people.
In Negros Occidental, the ratio is one policeman per 1,694 population, police records show.
Bacalzo also announced that the process for the recruitment of new police officers, as approved by the National Police Commission, has been reversed.
He said neuro-psycho examinations will be the top requirement in admitting applicants to the police force, rather than agility. “We should get the brightest first among them, before they undergo medical and physical fitness tests,” Bacalzo said.*GPB