PSG chief ‘ready’ to protect 10 ASEAN leaders

Pia Ranada
PSG chief ‘ready’ to protect 10 ASEAN leaders
Introducing 'Task Force Chieftain,' the special team in charge of protecting the 10 Southeast Asian leaders attending the 30th ASEAN Summit from April 28 to 29

MANILA, Philippines – After only a month as President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief of security, Presidential Security Group commander General Lope Dagoy now faces the challenge of ensuring the safety of 10 Southeast Asian leaders during a major summit in Manila this week.

He’s ready for the challenge.

“I have to be equal to the task given to me or more than equal to the task given to me…. I have to prepare myself and that is exactly what I am doing now,” Dagoy told Rappler on Monday, April 24, in Malacañang.

Dagoy heads “Task Force Chieftain,” the 2,000-strong group in charge of securing the 9 leaders, aside from President Duterte, who are attending the 30th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings on Saturday, April 29.

This is his first time to take on such a mission. It comes only a month after he was appointed PSG chief last March 23.

Dagoy is in charge of protecting the leaders, including Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who was recently threatened with an assassination plot. See the full list of leaders attending the summit here.

The PSG must also ensure the security of the spouses of these leaders and their children. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, for instance, may be bringing some of his children.

For weeks, Dagoy’s team has been identifying possible threats to these VIPs and coordinating with the officials’ own personal security teams.

“Every now and then, we rehearse, we walk through the events, just to see to it that these potential threats will be addressed effectively and efficiently,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Though he sees no specific threat, Dagoy said the kind of technology now being used by terrorists poses a challenge to security.

“The threat is evolving, they are also becoming high-tech, so we need to be quick in thinking. We have to think as if we were terrorists,” he said.

Task Force Chieftain will involve the participation of other units, aside from the PSG. These include the military’s army, navy, and airforce, as well as civilian agencies like the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), in charge mainly of traffic and rerouting schemes, and even the Bureau of Fire Protection.

With the heavy responsibility on his shoulders, Dagoy is taking no chances.

“Of course, as the one in charge of securing 9 heads of state, you cannot take chances also,” he said.

“As security officers, we are paranoid even if we haven’t identified a specific threat. We will assume that there are threats. Whatever forms of threats will come our way, we will prepare for them,” added the presidential security chief. – Rappler.com

 

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.