US turns over P5M in equipment to PNP SAF

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force on Monday, July 20, officially received over P5 million (about $110,500) worth of crisis response team (CRT) equipment from the US government.

SAF officials estimate that equipment worth over P5 million – from battering rams, shields, night vision goggles to Kevlar helmets – were given to the elite police unit by the US.

The equipment, SAF chief Director Moro Lazo told Rappler, can be used for a range of operations – from hostage crises similar to the 2010 Quirino incident to conflict situations such as the Zamboanga siege of 2013.

It’s a much-needed push for the SAF, which only recently lost a sizeable number of their equipment during the botched “Oplan Exodus.” (READ: Slim chance of getting the rest of SAF 44's firearms)

“The equipment we turn over to the SAF, it’s not enough,” US Department of Statement Diplomatic Security Regional Security Officer Thomas McDonough said on Monday.

McDonough added the SAF was the “number one leg” in a table composed of the US’s priority PNP units. The others include the PNP’s Explosives Ordnance Disposal units, the Anti-Cybercrime Group, and the Anti-Kidnapping Group.

The equipment turned over on Monday is one of the biggest batches from the US in almost a decade, the SAF said. Donations, which happen at least once a year, usually come in small amounts – equipment worth P1 to P2 million.

A batch of non-commissioned and commissioned officers is set to receive US training on CRT in early 2016. –