PNP urges U.S. to include Filipino cops in Balikatan exercises
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) wants to join the annual Balikatan exercises of Filipino and American soldiers.
This was proposed to United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim by PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, in a bid to further train the country's cops.
"'Yung meeting ko with the ambassador of the United States, I've requested na 'pag may Balikatan sana kahit na 'yung SAF (Special Action Force) lang or 'yung our Regional Mobile Force (RMF) will be accommodated," Albayalde said in a Camp Crame news briefing on Wednesday, May 23.
(In my meeting with the ambassador of the United States, I've requested that when Balikatan comes, I hope that at least the Special Action Force or the Regional Mobile Force will be accommodated.)
Who are the SAF and RMF? The SAF, dubbed the "Tagaligtas" (Savior) unit of the PNP, is the elite police group trained not just in anti-criminality operations and community relations but also in specialized military warfare and high-risk missions.
RMF members, meanwhile, are reserve cops in regional police headquarters trained to rapidly respond to high-level natural or man-made crises. They are also sometimes deployed to guard major events.
Why add them to Balikatan? According to Albayalde, the proposal is in line with PNP modernization, which the government sees for the most part as militarization. (READ: Duterte wants to revive 'militaristic' training for PNP)
The intense two-week exercises adopt different specialized programs every year, with the recent ones focusing on humanitarian response and counterterrorism.
"When we were with the PC (Philippine Constabulary) Special Action Force we were included every year. It's just one way to refresh the skills of our police, particularly those assigned to mobile forces," Albayalde said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Throwback: SAF personnel under the PNP have, in fact, joined the Balikatan drills before.
Around a hundred elite cops joined back in 2009 and were asked to teach other cops what they learned. – Rappler.com