City officials want more training, gear for police

08/26/2010 - THE bungled handling of the hostage crisis in Manila has prompted local officials to call for more training and better equipment for policemen to prepare them better to deal with a similar situation in the city.

Cebu City Councilor Augustus Pe, chairman of the Committee on Peace and Order, wants the Cebu City police to undergo continuous training, especially in handling a hostage-taking situation.

Pe said that although members of the Cebu City Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team are equipped with basic equipment like helmets, bullet proof vests, shields, and gas masks, there are still some equipment they need.

The city government is still waiting for SWAT chief Maj. Arnel Banzon to submit to the city their “wish list” of equipment needed in dealing with critical situations such as a hostage crisis.

Pe said the SWAT in Cebu lacks a good hostage negotiator.

“We should train a hostage negotiator. Once there would be an available training for SWAT, the city is willing to send a few personnel to attend,” Pe said

“Our city police are admittedly not as efficient as we wanted them to be. If that incident happens here, wa pud ta kahibaw, if they could have responded better than in Manila,” Pe told reporters.

Mayor Michael Rama has asked Senior Supt. Patrocinio Comendador Jr., Cebu City Police Office (CCPO)chief, to evaluate the police equipment in order to identify what they need.

“I asked for the items that we ought to have, that the city should be investing, as I have invested in my first 100 days buying motorcycles and equipment hopefully communication gadgets, that will create a continuous visibility and it should be manned with some specialization,” Rama said.

Rama described the hostage taking as saddening, shocking, and revealing. He said he hopes that kind of incident won’t happen in Cebu.

Rama said he wants the police to be prepared in case a crisis like what happened in Manila occurs in Cebu.

But city consultant on peace and order and traffic management Sylvan Jakosalem assured the public that “Cebu City SWAT is the best well trained and skilled SWAT unit in the country since the city has been spending for firearms, ammunition, and continuous training sessions for almost 10 years.”

Chief Supt. Ager Ontog Jr., police director for Central Visayas, also believes that members of the Cebu SWAT are more capable than their Manila counterparts who responded to Monday’s hostage crisis.

Ontog said he was impressed how members of Cebu SWAT responded to a hostage crisis scenario at the Camp Sotero Cabahug which he personally witnessed.

He also noted that city policemen are equipped with modern and advance weapons and equipment.

Aside from CCPO, Ontog said he would inspect other SWAT units in other cities and provinces in Central Visayas.

On media’s role, Ontog said he would personally study first whether to support a bill proposed by Cebu Rep. Luigi Quisumbing restricting media coverage during a hostage crisis.

Ontog told reporters that media should have certain limitations in covering delicate matters like the hostage incident at the Quirino Grandstand.

Ontog said he would study the proposed bill since it’s a complicated matter as it could curtail the right to information.

Ronnie Oriol, public information officer of National Police Commission (Napolcom) who was also present during the forum said media’s rights are not absolute.

Oriol explained that the limitations of right to information enter the picture if several lives are at stake like what happened in Manila where the lives of Hong Kong tourists were involved.

Some police officials in the region have partly blamed the media for the hostage fiasco.

Senior Supt. Erson Digal, chief of Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) said the hostage-taker was monitoring what was happening outside rom a TV inside the bus.

Digal said that the hostage-taker became agitated after watching the arrest of his brother on TV. (Inquirer)

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

i have spoken to many police in cebu city and offered to supply cebu city police with bullet proof vests for free many times with no follow up what so ever...the request for assistance was never submitted to the foundation...as your aware the USA fire departments and police renew their equipment every 1-3 years so there are stock piles of Gear that must be donated. I have access to this equipment and would like to help...but have not received any follow up as i said. contact www.gearupfoundation.org for more information...again if your interested...

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