More ‘tourist cops’ eyed in R-12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/15 July) — The Police Regional Office 12 is planning to train an additional 90 policemen as “tourist cops” to complement with the region’s enhanced tourism promotion and development initiatives.

Chief Supt. Charles Calima Jr., Region 12 police director, said the move is part of their continuing efforts to transform police stations within the region’s four provinces and five cities as “tourist-friendly” units.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal Tacurong Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“Our goal is to develop the capability of our personnel, especially those assigned near tourist attractions or areas, in addressing specific concerns of tourists,” Calima said in a press conference.

The official said he has instructed the regional police office’s training staff to schedule the training of three batches of “tourist cops” comprising of 30 active policemen each.

He said the training will include modules or lessons on basic geography, focusing on tourism attractions found within their assigned areas.

“Some tourists visiting an area might prefer seeking assistance or information from the nearest police station so it would be a shame if our policemen are not even aware or familiar about them,” Calima said.

The training program also covers modules on tourism awareness, cultural sensitivity, emergency response and life-saving, crisis management, community-based guiding, foreign language and familiarization tours.

The Department of Tourism had signed a memorandum of agreement with the Philippine National Police (PNP) to provide mechanisms that will ensure the safety and security of local and foreign tourists in the country.

The agreement specifically provided for the establishment of the Tourist-Oriented Police for Community Order and Protection program.

Republic Act 9593 or the Tourism Act of 2009 provides for the establishment of a tourism security force within the PNP to assist in maintaining peace and order in areas with high tourism traffic.

In Region 12, Calima said a number of policemen earlier underwent training as members of the tourist police but only a few of them are currently active.

“We checked this with our roster and found out that we only have a few active tourist cops in the region right now. So we decided to train new members and hopefully add more later on,” he said.

Calima added that the training and establishment of tourist police units in the region is part the “expanded” version of the PNP vision that he has adopted.

He was referring to the PNP’s vision state that specifically the “attainment of a safer place to live, work and do business.”

“For us, in the region, we added the attainment of a safer place to visit to give proper attention to our tourism areas,” he added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)