By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

(PNA photo by Lloyd Caliwan)

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday received USD3.3 million (around PHP181 million) worth of state-of-the-art equipment from the Office of Antiterrorism Assistance Program of the Diplomatic Security Services of the United States Embassy to help boost its counter-terrorism capability.

US Ambassador to Manila MaryKay Carlson led the turnover of the donated equipment at Camp Bagong Diwa, in Taguig City, which includes 31 bomb suits, 37 Digital SCANX units, 40 X-ray Sources, 10 EOD bomb suit batteries, 33 high-risk search techniques kits, 13 seeker-e kits, and seven Ford Ranger pickup trucks.

“This equipment with a total value of over USD3 million will enhance the capability of the PNP-Explosive Ordnance Disposal and K-9 unit to search, identify and render safe improvised explosive devices and facilitate collection of evidence to use for prosecution,” Carlson said.

Carlson stressed Washington D.C.’s commitment to supporting Manila in its fight against terrorism.

“The United States remains steadfast in its friendship and commitment to the Government of the Philippines, and we are very proud of our continuing partnership in the fight against terrorism. I am confident that working together, we will be able to deter, interdict, and prevent acts of terrorism,” Carlson said.

Maj. Gen. Ronaldo Olay, PNP director for logistics, said the equipment would enhance the PNP’s capabilities in detecting, preventing and responding to terrorist threats in the country.

“All of this state-of-the-art equipment will significantly enhance our capabilities to prevent and respond to terrorist threats and other high risk situations, ultimately helping us to better serve and protect the Filipino people. We will ensure that this equipment is put to good use and will contribute significantly to our efforts in maintaining peace and order in this part of the world,” said Olay, who received the donations on behalf of PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr.

Olay thanked the US government for the donation, which he said “will undoubtedly be a game changer in our ability to fulfill our mission to keep our communities safe from terrorism and other forms of criminality.”

“We are extremely grateful for this donation, which will undoubtedly be a game-changer in our ability to fulfill our mission to keep our communities safe from terrorism and other forms of criminality. This donation also highlights the strong partnership between the Philippine National Police and the American Embassy, and we are deeply appreciative of this gesture of support from our American allies,” he added.

The turnover ceremony was attended by ranking officials from both the PNP and the US Embassy, wherein they emphasized the importance of the donation in strengthening the partnership between the two countries in addressing security concerns.

Carlson, meanwhile, said the US State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security – Office of Anti-Terrorism Assistance has provided training and equipment to the Philippine government since 1986, and has since provided the PNP with over USD100 million (around PHP5.4 billion) in assistance.

While the relationship started with initial investments centered on providing core competency training to the PNP units in Manila, the US assistance now also provides technical, tactical and investigative training and equipment to PNP units all throughout the country.

This year, Carlson said the US government’s Antiterrorism Assistance Program has invested more than USD5 million (PHP275 million) in the PNP for the development of its EOD/K9 crisis response, digital forensics and investigation and intelligence fusion.

Col. Albert Magno, acting director of PNP EOD/K9 Group, the end-user of the donated equipment, assured the public that the equipment will be put to good use in serving the Filipino people and protecting them from the threat of terrorism.

During the event, the PNP EOD/K9 Group exhibited their proficiency in handling explosive devices and identifying prohibited substances through the utilization of expertly trained K9s and other operational robotics machinery.

The Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) provides antiterrorism equipment and training to law enforcement agencies of partner nations globally. With its establishment in 1983, ATA has trained over 150,000 first responders and law enforcement officials from more than 150 countries in counterterrorism tactics.

The ATA support to the PNP began in 1986 when the program was created by the US government to provide antiterrorism training and equipment to law enforcement agencies of partner nations throughout the world.

Since then, the ATA program has been instrumental in enhancing the PNP’s capabilities in counterterrorism and other law enforcement operations through the provision of various forms of assistance, including training, technical assistance, and equipment donations. (PNA)