MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Police (PNP) is one step closer to having one firearm for every policeman.
President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday, July 2, led the ceremonial distribution of government-acquired Glock 17 Generation 4 pistols. Along with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP chief Alan Purisima, Aquino turned over the 1st two tranches, numbering 22,603 units of the total 74,879 purchased by the government.
The new pistols, in addition to PNP's current inventory of firearms, will ensure a 100% fill-up and will fully equip the PNP, something that has never happened before, Purisima said.
Aquino praised the police for their work, citing the drop in crime rate, kidnapping, car theft, and private armed groups, as well as the rise in the number of confiscated illegal firearms since the start of his term. Aquino said the "time of insulting our police is over."
"We are thankful for the dedication of the police which is why the government is determined to life the capabilities of the police force," he said.
He added, "You may not have had firearms, but you have showed what you can do. What more when you have firearms to carry?"
The distribution is part of the PNP Capability Enhancement Program, the Aquino administration's efforts to fight crime by upgrading the 148,000-strong police force's capabilities. At the moment, only about half have firearms, far from the government's goal of achieving a 1:1 ratio for police to firearm.
Purisima called the event a "significant milestone for the PNP," which brings the agency "many steps forward in ways to improve our capability and the performance of our personnel." He expressed hope that the distribution of pistols, "will serve to further inspire our men and women to render their duties as servants and protectors of their people with deeper passion."
Aquino said the purchase of short firearms is only the beginning of more upgrades and benefits for the PNP. In an interview, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said a P9-B PNP Operational Transformational Plan approved by the President will hire 15,000 new employees to do administrative jobs, which will allow policemen to work in the field rather than stay indoors.
The plan also includes the acquisition of 2,500 patrol vehicles, an P800-M budget for the purchase of automatic rifles, and communications and laboratory equipment. Aquino also said the construction of housing for law enforcers continues as part of the reforms.
Law enforcers who passed marksmanship tests and firing efficiency tests are prioritized to receive the first set of pistols, especially those assigned to highly urbanized areas and tourist spots.
Late last year, Aquino, a gun enthusiast, had defended the Glock 17 pistols as the right choice, saying it is the standard gun used by most of American's policemen. The PNP said it passed the agency's nine-step test under different conditions, which included an endurance test that required firing 5,000 rounds per day without jamming, for a total of 20,000 rounds.
The procurement of firearms from winning bidder Trust Trade, was hailed by the PNP as the most transparent bidding in history, and is said to be the model for future procurements. The government purchased the pistols at only P16,569.94 per unit, despite a market price of about P40,000 — allowing the PNP to buy an additional 14,000 guns this year to add to its original 60,000 pistols purchased in 2012.
But the procurement was riddled with controversy, following reports former Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Rico Puno had fast-tracked the bidding process, and complaints by other bidders of anomalies.