PNP to recruit 2,500 SAF troopers

MANILA, Philippines – With the approval of the National Police Commission (Napolcom), the Philippine National Police (PNP) is adding 5 battalions or around 2,500 troopers to its Special Action Force (SAF).

The announcement: "The Commission approved the creation of 5 additional [battalions] in order to effectively carry out the mandate of the PNP to actively support the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)," Napolcom Vice Chairman Rogelio Casurao announced in a statement on Thursday, February 22.

What for? The PNP SAF is the elite striking unit of the police, deployed for high-level hostage rescues, warfare, disaster assistance, and other special missions. It currently has 7 battalions.

In a press conference on Thursday, PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the additional commandos will help in "counterterrorism" and "internal security" operations, presumably to be assigned to the SAF's Anti-Terrorism Unit.

Why it matters: The elite force's expansion comes as the country faces the risk of more terror threats in the wake of the 5-month Marawi siege in 2017.

Trained in urban warfare, the PNP SAF provides valuable support to the AFP in times of terror attacks.

Go deeper: The Philippines has the most ISIS-claimed attacks outside Iraq and Syria, according to a report. The Metro Manila police chief also said the Philippine capital has "safe havens" for terrorists because of sympathizers. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.