MANILA, Philippines – Eight-year-old presidential guard dog Dindo relaxes in his cage and looks serenely towards the Malacañang grounds he has guarded for the past 6 years.
Given his advanced age, Dindo will soon retire, his place taken by dogs like 3-year-old Coleen, who sits in the cage beside his.
Both Belgian Malanois, Dindo and Coleen are two of the 27 PSG dogs deployed to protect President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Commission on Audit (COA) recently told the PSG that it had failed to meet the minimum number of 25 dogs in the past 6 months since it had only 20 dogs at the time.
PSG spokesman Michael Aquino told Rappler they currently have 27 dogs, but even this number is not enough to guard such an “active” chief as President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We have 27 dogs now with PSG Central but the ceiling for 2017 was set to 30,” Aquino said in a phone interview on Wednesday, July 5.
Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler
The minimum number of 25 was set in 2016. The PSG has had to adjust this number due to Duterte’s schedule – full of travels and events in high-risk areas.
“We added because we have a very active President,” said Aquino.
While the PSG is 3 dogs shy of its target, Aquino said that this does not “get in the way of fulfilling our mission.”
Still, they’ve requested for more dogs and are hoping for a faster procurement process. It costs P3.5 million for 3 more dogs.
The PSG last procured a new guard dog in 2004. Aquino explained that finding a new dog is not that simple, given the kind of job these dogs are given.
Before a dog can be accepted into the PSG, it must have proven itself to be 95% accurate in key functions like sniffing out bombs and weapons.
Roughly half of the 27 PSG dogs are permanently stationed in Davao City, Duterte’s hometown. This is because Duterte goes home to Davao every week and frequently attends events there.
PSG dogs are a familiar sight in all of Duterte’s events. They are there hours before he arrives, sniffing around the venue for anything suspicious.
When their job is done, they sit or lie down beside their handlers, and are often a magnet for journalists and other event guests also waiting for the President.
Despite their fierce appearance, the dogs always seem to be keen for head or ear rubs.
Security is definitely a big concern for Duterte, who has threatened war against both drug lords and terrorists.
Dindo, Coleen, and the other PSG dogs do their share in protecting the country’s leader. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.