By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

(Photo courtesy of PNP Public Information Office)

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) is looking to increase its recruit intake in order to better serve the country’s growing population.

This proposal was discussed by PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos and House Speaker Martin Romualdez in a meeting on Monday, the PNP Public Information Office said in a news release on Tuesday.

As of this time, the PNP has a strength of 227,000 securing the country’s 110 million population.

PNP spokesperson Col. Red Maranan, meanwhile, said they are looking to recruit additional police officers next year.

The police force is only authorized to get 1,000 recruits this year, much lower than the 4,000 recruits hired in 2022.

Aside from additional manpower, the PNP is looking to beef up its technology and equipment.

Maranan said Romualdez expressed his support for these improvements.

Romualdez, meanwhile, agreed on the necessity of an enhanced drive against criminality that includes a sustained crackdown on illegal firearms and increased police visibility across the country along with ongoing programs for improved intelligence-gathering capability and training of policemen.

Romualdez committed the solid support of the House of Representatives for a genuine intensified campaign of law enforcement authorities against crime to ensure the safety of every citizen.

The House Speaker sought the meeting with Abalos and Azurin following recent incidents of gun-related violence against certain local officials and hapless civilians.

Despite the high-profile crimes that occurred recently, Abalos and Azurin told Romualdez that the overall crime rate relatively went down.

“We gave Sec. Abalos and Gen. Azurin our assurance that the House of Representatives would be open to providing the PNP with adequate funding support and other resources — as well as new legislation if necessary — to buttress the campaign against crime, which is our shared concern,” Romualdez said.

Azurin said the country’s crime rate has dropped by 19.49 percent from January to Feb. 25 this year as compared to the same period in 2022, amid the spate of attacks against local officials this month.

On Monday, the PNP chief said there is a continuing decline in peace and order indicators, particularly index crimes, from 6,141 in January to Feb. 25 in 2022 down to 4,944 for the same period this year.

“I had been reporting every week na sabi ko nga pababa ang crime environment sa ating bansa (as I said the crime environment in our country is going down). It was unfortunate that there has been shooting incidents against our elected local officials wherein the PNP is now working on the double to determine the identities of the suspects and bring them to justice,” Azurin told reporters in Camp Crame. (PNA)