Recto: More cops, patrol cars needed to maximize 911

MANILA — The rolling out of more 911 lines should go hand-in-hand with the hiring of more policemen and the purchase of more patrol cars so that the police can effectively respond to distress calls.

This was pointed out by Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto who said that the advantages of a 911 hotline will be forfeited if the police will not be able to quickly react to calls for help for lack of manpower and equipment.

“Reaching the police in seconds is one thing; having the police rush to the scene of the crime in minutes is another,” Recto said.

Recto said the installation of a nationwide 911 system should be accompanied with the induction into service of more policemen and investments in needed equipment like prowl cars and firearms.

“Kung hindi, sayang lang ang napakagandang programa na 911 kung wala o kulang o mabagal ang pag-responde,” Recto said.

Without these resources, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be hard put meeting its “performance guarantee” in the 2016 national budget of a “15-minute response time to 100 percent of distress calls in urban areas,” Recto said.

Citing official reports like government audit findings, Recto said the PNP has 23,820 “uniformed position” vacancies.

Filling these posts, Recto said, will give the nation’s 1,489 towns an additional 12 policemen each, “and 41 more policemen for each of the 145 cities.”

The PNP, he explained, has 174,410 “authorized uniformed personnel positions” of which only 150,590 are filled, according to an official Department of Budget and Management document.

Recto said the Commission on Audit’s (COA) latest audit on the PNP showed that 16,140 policemen did not have service handguns as of the end of 2015.

“The PNP has not attained a 100 percent issuance of short firearms to PNP uniformed personnel,” the COA said in its PNP audit for 2015.

To remedy this, Recto said the 2017 national budget, the first that President Duterte will recommend to Congress, must contain funding that will end the plight of “gunless policemen.”

Other critical equipment which must be purchased are patrol cars, Recto added.

Recto said it was revealed in last year’s House of Representatives hearings on the 2016 national budget that the PNP lacked at least 3,000 four-wheel patrol vehicles on the conservative estimate that every town and city needed two more each.

The PNP also lacked about 830 patrol boats, or one each for every coastal town, Recto said.

Despite the lack of motorized vehicles and boats, the PNP still racked up PHP1.23 billion in fuel, oil and lubricant bills in 2015.

The senator said the Duterte administration should also inculcate an “excellent maintenance culture” of vehicles and other equipment in the national police.

“Kung madaling masira, madaling magmukhang madungis ang mga patrol cars, nasan kaya ang diprensya kung bakit tila madaling mag-depreciate at mabulok ang mga PNP service vehicles?” he said.

Recto said more cops with guns and cars are needed as the existing one policeman per 690 persons ratio is on the low side.

“This is on paper, and on the assumption that all cops are on duty at the same time, all the time. May shifts yan, ang iba naka-leave, or schooling, or suspended, or naka-headquarters duty. So the actual number of cops on duty at any given time is really small,” Recto said.

By plugging PNP shortfall in men and material, “we will be able to keep our streets safe, and businesses secure, by a fully-equipped and well-disciplined police force whose members are one text or call away,” Recto said. PNA/