Erap buys P20-M guns for still unarmed cops

The Daily Tribune| Written by: Pat C. Santos| October 05, 2016

To beef up more strength in pursuing relentless drive versus illegal drugs and all forms of criminality in the city as well as to cope up with President Duterte’s vision of a drug-free Philippines, Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada has procured P20-million brand-new guns to arm dozens of Manila policemen who have not been issued service firearms.

Estrada said he found it appalling that some policemen report for duty everyday unarmed; others  have to get a loan to buy guns for themselves.

“Our policemen put their lives on the line for us every single day. They have to have service firearms not only to defend themselves but also to maintain public safety and protect the citizenry,” the Manila mayor pointed out.

“Wala na dapat Pulis Patola,” Estrada said, recounting the old days when policemen only carried batons shaped like patola to fight crimes as the criminal way of branding coward cop due to their inferior weapons.

As city mayor of San Juan for 17 long years before being elected in Manila three years ago, Estrada said it has been his topmost priority to provide whatever the local police need to effectively fulfill their duties.

Since his assumption to office in 2013 after complying with his campaign promise, he has allotted P1.9 billion for crime prevention program which includes P136 million in back allowances of MPD members and the procurement of 41 new mobile patrol cars and 110 electric personal transporters, not to include renovation and refurbishing of more than 60-year-old MPD headquarters building.

Through P20 million funding, he had also renovated the main headquarters of MPD on United Nations Avenue, the first time since it was built way back 1949.

MPD director Senior Supt. Joel Coronel said around 300 Manila policemen, most of whom are new recruits, are still without service firearms.

But with the P20-million budget released by Estrada, each of them would soon be issued his own gun, he said.

“Unlike other police districts in Metro Manila and in the provinces, we can now say that there is no more unarmed cops here in Manila,” the MPD chief, expressing his gratitude to Estrada, said.

The P20-million budget for guns came from the P137 million allocated by Estrada this year for the 4,652-strong MPD, according to Coronel.

From the P20 million, 400 units of Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistols, 60 M4 Carbines (shorter and lighter variant of the M16A2 Armalite assault rifle), eight Sig Sauer sniper rifles, ammunition and other necessary gears and equipment were bought.

Based on a report of the Commission on Audit (CoA), more than one out of every 10 uniformed personnel of the PNP is performing his or her duty fighting crime unarmed.

The PNP currently has 147,041 uniformed officers assigned to offices, units or regions, yet only 124,738 of them actually have handguns; 16,140 cops still have no firearms, CoA said.

The state auditing agency said the PNP should address this issue, considering that the National Police Commission, through a resolution, has required the 100 percent issuance of short firearms to policemen as early as April 1993.