EXPLAINER: How to get police escorts

Rambo Talabong
EXPLAINER: How to get police escorts

Gerard Carreon

Police security details are more than just bodyguards in uniform. They cannot be abused.

MANILA, Philippines – When the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) decided to recall the cops standing guard for the Tulfo brothers Erwin, Raffy, and Ben, one question stood out: Why did they have cops as security details?

A total of 8 cops deployed to the Tulfo family were ordered back to the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters after newsreader and commentator Erwin blasted former Army chief and now Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, a well-respected former serviceman by the corps.

Asked how the Tulfos were able to secure cop aides, the Philippine National Police (PNP) gave a straightforward answer. They asked for it.

Anyone can apply for police security escorts if they can prove that they are facing threats to their lives.

This does not exempt high-profile broadcasters. In fact, the PNP had earlier even assigned police escorts to the daughter of a convicted drug queen.

Police security details are more than just bodyguards in uniform. Rappler breaks down the process of acquiring security details.

1. Writing to the police chief

The first step is writing to the chief of the Philippine National Police.

“The request for protective security shall be made in writing to the Chief, PNP stating therein in detail the existence of threat/s to justify the grant thereof,” the National Police Commission (Napolcom)’s Memorandum Circular No. 2009-004 says.

The most important task to keep in mind in the application is to prove that there is a threat to the life of the applicant. By threat, the Napolcom and the PNP means:

“[A]n indication of something impending and usually undesirable or unpleasant, with an intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage to another, usually as retribution or punishment for something done or left undone. It is an expression of an intention to inflict loss or harm on another by illegal means, and especially by involving coercion or duress over the person or his welfare.”

In the sample letter that the PNP gives applicants, the letter only contains an introduction and a blank accompanied by the text, “please state details of [the] threat.”

Applicants must fill up an application form requiring background information and a 2×2 photo. They must also sign an “affidavit of undertaking” wherein they promise that they would not abuse police escorts should their request be granted.

According to PNP Police Security and Protection Group chief Brigadier General Filmore Escobal, the applicants must also attach evidence they possess to prove the dangers they face, which include photos, CCTV clips, and even affidavits of people who are privy to the threats.

2. Assessing the threat

Once the police chief receives the letter and attached files of the applicants, these are forwarded to the PNP PSPG as well as to the following intelligence arms of the PNP:

  1. Directorate for Intelligence
  2. Intelligence Group
  3. Regional intelligence division of the police regional office of the applicant
  4. Intelligence section of the police provincial or city or district office of the applicant

The city, district, and provincial intelligence officers have 48 hours to complete their reports, while the rest have 72 hours.

The assessment of threat primarily involves the intel agents checking whether the claims of the applicant are true such as checking if photos are not faked, that CCTV footages actually exist, and that the narratives presented have also been monitored by local police through their blotter books and intelligence operations.

3. Waiting for approval

From the gathered information by intelligence agents, the Directorate for Intelligence will make one of two recommendations:

  1. The applicant can avail of police security escorts
  2. The applicant should instead avail of private security escorts

The second outcome essentially means the police do not see the applicant as passing their criteria for members of their force to secure them. PSPG chief Escobal said they will, however, endorse the applicant to PNP-accredited security agencies.

Under the Napolcom resolution on approving police details, individuals who could only avail of escorts should pass the following criteria based on the intelligence gathered:

  1. The applicant requesting for security is under actual threat or death and/or physical harm
  2. The threat, after due evaluation, is assessed to be imminent or highly possible

If the desirable first outcome is recommended, the application will pass through the PSPG, then the PSPG will recommend, in a letter to the PNP chief, how many security details are needed for the applicant.

Once the PNP chief approves the recommendation, the PSPG will deploy their security personnel.

The deployment of police escorts for private individuals covers only 6 months. After the period, threatened individuals would have to write the police chief again for renewal. The process repeats.

RULES APPLY. Police security details are not just bodyguards in uniform. File photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Rules for those who get escorts

The affidavit of undertaking that applicants signed outlines all the rules that they need to follow. The top 3 no-nos for them that the Napolcom includes in its resolution are the following:

  1. Use as a security guard, gatekeeper, family driver, or an errand boy
  2. Use as employees in establishments
  3. Use as an instrument to harass or intimidate other people

The threatened individuals cannot pass over their police escorts to their family members, and they must always inform the police guards about their whereabouts.

The police escorts cannot be kept by the threatened individuals 24/7. The cops should be given two days off a week, and be handed “decent” food, lodging, and transportation allowance should they extend their 8 hours of duty a day.

Throughout the police’s stay, secured individuals are expected to avoid illegal activities and act consistently with “public morals and decency.”

Rules for the police escorts

Not all cops can be security escorts.

The Napolcom specifically limited the cops allowed to stand as escorts to those holding ranks from captain (Police Officer 2) to chief master sergeant (SPO3).

Police captains can also be guards but only upon the recommendation of the PNP chief himself that would be approved by the Napolcom chairman, who is the secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Police escorts also cannot have pending criminal and administrative cases and must have completed a regular VIP Security and Protection course.

Throughout the assignment, police security details must always wear their uniform “except when the occasion warrants.”

The cops must report to the PSPG or the nearest police station every 15 days and they can be pulled out anytime on the following grounds:

  1. The PNP’s need for more personnel
  2. Wrong submission of documents by the secured person
  3. If the secured person violates any provision of the signed affidavit of undertaking

– Rappler.com

TOP PHOTO: COP GUARDS. Private individuals can also keep police guards. File photo by Jay Directo/AFP

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.