PNP pulls out 2,000 policemen from eruption-hit areas

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief Archie Gamboa has ordered 2,000 cops from the Reactionary Standby Support Force (RSSF) to pull out of Taal Volcano area and resume their normal duties.

PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Bernard Banac said the order to pull out was given Wednesday evening in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte's directive.

Duterte made the order in consideration of the health conditions of the cops who may have already been affected by the massive ashfall following the eruption.

“I’m withdrawing my police...they have been there for so many weeks already. Puno na ‘yung lungs nila ng abo. Kawawa naman,” Duterte said in a speech during the 69th founding anniversary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Quezon City.

“I’m sure that they have inhaled about one sack of ash already,” he added.

Banac said before they could go back to their normal duties, the RSSF members will undergo medical check-up at the PNP hospital.

"Ang lahat ng mga members ng RSSF na nadeploy at na-pullout ay sasailalim sa checkup sa PNP General Hospital upang tingnan kung mayroon sa kanilang nagkaroon ng lung ailment o anumang difficulty in breathing," Banac said.

"Ngayong araw nagsimula na ang kanilang checkup. Hopefully, wala namang nagkasakit," he added.

Banac assured that police operations in the affected areas will continue through the Police Regional Office Calabarzon.

“Local police units and the PRO4a Search and Rescue unit under PBGen Vicente Danao will continue to provide security and assist in the relief operations in all areas in Batangas affected by the Taal volcano eruption in coordination with the Local Government Units,” Banac said in a statement.

The Taal Volcano is currently on Alert Level 3, which means decreased tendency towards hazaroud eruption.

The government has allowed residents of 12 towns outside the permanent danger zone of the volcano to return home. (SunStar Philippines)