DILG says purchase of PNP choppers for operational capabilities not luxury

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday defended the purchase of helicopters and other modern equipment for the Philippine National Police (PNP) following the crash of one of its choppers in Laguna last week.

In a statement, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the procurement of PNP choppers was to improve its operational capabilities and service delivery.

“This is not a luxury purchase but a needed acquisition for the PNP. In fact, it’s long overdue. The use of PNP helicopters and other equipment recently acquired by the police organization is to aid in augmenting its operational capacity. Ito po ay bahagi ng modernisasyon ng ating kapulisan,” he said.

“Lahat po ng modernong kapulisan sa buong mundo ay mayroong chooper. Hindi naman po bibilihin ito ng ating pamahalaan kung ito po ay hindi makatutulong at kinakailangan para sa paglilingkod sa ating mga kababayan,”he added.

The PNP recently acquired more helicopters and other equipment, including 37 units of medium troop carriers and 12 pickup vehicles, amounting to P2.88 billion to “further boost its firepower and mobility assets.”

Also procured were 501 units of combat helmets worth PHP32 million; firearms such as light machine gun, basic assault rifle, pistol, and magazines; and bomb equipment such as explosive ordnance division robot, undershirt vest, night vision goggles, ballistic eyewear, handheld radio, among others.

Malaya said the Bell 429 helicopter that crashed in San Pedro, Laguna was a command chopper used by high-ranking PNP officials for administrative and command purposes.

He also noted that the Armed Forces of the Philippines also have command choppers to enable its officials to perform official tasks.

“As a command chopper, its purpose is for mobility of the Chief, PNP and other star-officers of the PNP to enable them to attend to their official functions faster and more efficiently,” he said.

Malaya added that the purchase and usage of said choppers were approved by the Congress and by President Rodrigo Duterte. He also said that its procurement underwent open competitive biddings and careful testing.

“Ito po ay tugon sa matagal ng hinaing din ng ating mga kababayan sa mas modernong PNP. This will only lead to better law enforcement para sa mas mabuting paglilingkod sa mga mamamayan,” he said.

Last March 5, PNP chief Police General Archie Gamboa and seven others were hurt after the chopper they were riding crashed shortly after take-off in San Pedro, Laguna.

Gamboa was with Directorate for Comptrollership Major General Jovic Ramos, Directorate for Intelligence Major General Mariel Magaway, and PNP Spokesperson Brigadier General Bernard Banac. Two pilots, Gamboa’s aide, and a technician were also on board the helicopter.

The PNP chief and 6 others sustained minor injuries, while Magaway and Ramos were placed under intensive care although their conditions have already improved.

The investigation into the crash is underway.

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