Duterte urged to use aerial drones for disaster, emergency response

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 20 April) — The chief of the city’s Public Security and Safety Command Center (PSSCC) here has recommended to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte the use of aerial drones as a tool in disaster and emergency response.

PSSCC chief Francisco Villaroman said he has proposed to the city government to invest in aerial drones for emergency response situations after testing a unit a week after the April 4-5 fire that hit two barangays in Isla Verde.

Duterte, he said, would be the one to decide if the city can afford drones and whether to use the device as a regular unit of the city’s Central 911 emergency response system.

He said the drones cost around P80,000 commercially and could be able to zoom in to focus on distant subjects on the ground if upgraded with cameras with zoom-in capabilities.

Villaroman had earlier said in several Facebook postings that he was impressed with the capabilities of the Quad Copter Phantom 2 drone, which allowed city officials a wider visual perspective of the extent of the damage of the fire that hit barangays 22C and 23C last April 4, and rendered homeless some 3,000 families.

He added that the drones were battery operated and did not need a lot of funds to be airborne.

Villaroman used footage and photos from the aerial drone in his presentation to the City Council a week after the Isla Verde fire which is estimated to have damaged eight out of the 12 hectare densely populated residential area.

Duterte had tasked Villaroman to be the spokesperson of Task Force Isla Verde, the body that would assess the extent of the damage of the fire and plan for the rehabilitation of the fire-damaged areas.

“Public management in safety and security needs some modern technology to keep our people safe and secured,” he said in his Facebook post.

He said the city could use “other modern apparatus to avert crime and terrorism, calamity mitigation, and traffic accident monitoring.”

“It is indeed the duty of our government to secure our constituents from any man-made and natural calamities,” he said.

Villaroman added that aerial drones could be essential in disaster and other kinds of emergency response.

“For example, during a robbery, it would be very easy to spot a car that escaped a crime scene if we had something like that,” Villaroman said.

In July last year, city law enforcement was unable to apprehend two of three SUVs believed to be Monteros involved in a kidnap-for-ransom shootout involving Manila based businesswoman Sally Chua.

Chua was abducted in Manila in July 5, 2013, and was brought to Davao to withdraw P15 million in ransom.

Three alleged kidnappers were shot dead during a rescue operation headed by then-Davao City Police Office chief Ronald Dela Rosa.

The vehicles were not found, despite a city-wide lockdown of all exit and entry points ordered by Duterte.

The Bureau of Fire Protection said that during the April 4, they could not easily pass through the main fire that started near Barangay 21C since the city’s firetrucks were too wide for the roads.

Villaroman clarified that quad copters and other kinds of drones could be assembled, instead of bought as a complete set.

He said he was already investing in assembling a unit for his personal use. (MindaNews)