GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/31 August) – Apparently learning from the August 23 Quirino Grandstand tragedy that left eight Hong Kong Chinese tourists dead, police and local government officials in South Cotabato are planning to form a special operations unit that will specifically handle hostage-taking and other crisis situations that may happen in the area.
Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said Tuesday he will meet with top police officials in the province within the next few days week to discuss the need for the activation of the proposed special law enforcement unit and the requirements for its creation at the local government level.
“The hostage crisis at the Quirino Grandstand was an eye-opener for us. Right now, we don’t have a local law enforcement unit that is capable of handling such kind of crisis so I think it’s about time that we address this matter,” the governor said.
Pingoy said the move was suggested during the discussions Friday at the 2nd General Assembly of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) in Manila.
He said LPP members specifically discussed the impact of the hostage incident and possible mechanisms that local governments may adopt to address similar situations.
The governor said former Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General and now Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. urged them to initiate the creation of well-trained and equipped special operations units to ensure proper interventions in case such incidents occur within their areas.
Pingoy said that aside from his planned meeting with the local police officials, he will also take up the matter with members of the Provincial Peace and Order Council to discuss possible measures and strategies in support of the move.
“We’re here to support our PNP and we will make sure that we’ll help out with the necessary financial and logistical requirements with regard to this proposal,” he said.
Senior Supt. Nilo Wong, South Cotabato police director, lauded the governor’s proposal saying it will further help strengthen their ongoing security operations within the province’s 10 towns and lone city.
He said their office has already taken up the matter and initially came up with a proposal for the strengthening of the province’s existing special operations unit.
“We have our own special unit here but it’s really not a force to reckon with. We will need the help of the provincial government for the recruitment of additional personnel for the unit as well as the training and improvement of its logistical capability,” he said.
Wong added he will submit such proposal to the governor in their upcoming meeting. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)