Police ‘strike force’ to secure Benguet vs insurgents

By Pamela Mariz Geminiano

August 23, 2018, 8:34 pm

STRIKE FORCE. The Alpha Company of the Cordillera Regional Mobile Force in formation. The cops' group serves as the locals' 'strike force,' ready to respond to emergencies and secure the place from possible attacks. (File Photo Redgie Melvic Cawis/PIA-CAR)

BAGUIO CITY -- Even if there is no imminent danger from insurgents, the Benguet police force has beefed up its security plan for the region in case of sudden attack, particularly from communist rebels.

The Benguet Provincial Mobile Force has deployed two more platoons spread in various towns of the province to prepare for possible internal threats and aid locals cops in anti-crime operations.

“The mobile force is ready to respond anytime and anywhere,” Police Supt. Edward Aquintey, chief of the mobile force, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.

Serving as first responders, the Benguet Provincial Mobile Force is the province's "strike force," composed of cops trained to take action against sudden attacks.

He said the two platoons were deployed to the towns of Atok, Mankayan, Kabayan, Bokod, and Itogon, areas that are distant from the headquarters of the Benguet Provincial Mobile Force in Abatan, Buguias town.

“It will take time for our troops to respond in cases of threats,” Aquintey explained, saying it would take time for the headquarters to respond in case of sudden attack in these areas.

Benguet is a “white area” in terms of internal threats and has no known camps of insurgents belonging to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA).

“But it is best to have a pro-active presence of the mobile force company, just in case,” the police colonel said.

Aquintey describes the CPP-NPA as "very mobile," increasing the possibility of their presence in the province.

He related the past incident in Tuba in 2017, where members of the left community in the area exchange fire with the police.

“We cannot be complacent, even if we are considered as a white area,” Aquintey said, saying the presence of the mobile force is a pre-emptive measure.

He added the mobile force also maintains an “advanced-forward” deployment in areas, where there are major installations like the hydroelectric power plants in Binga, Itogon and Ambuklao in Bokod, Benguet.

"We are maintaining one platoon in Itogon, Benguet to address the internal security issues in the south, while we have our headquarters in Buguias, Benguet to secure the northern part," he said. "The mobile force has operational jurisdiction over the province. I would like to reiterate, with the platoons being deployed, it can be easier for us to respond to beleaguered areas."

Aquintey assured that the mobile force has the personnel and equipment to ensure security in its protected areas.

The group also undergoes training on disaster risk reduction management, equipping the members with skills needed to respond to emergencies due to calamities and disasters.

Aquintey, who also heads the Police Community Relations branch of the Baguio City Police Office, said the Benguet strike force is also linking with the community or talking to the people, not only to aid intelligence and regular police operations but also to develop rapport with the community.

"We should develop our rapport, partnership with the community, especially in far flung areas," he said. "With that relationship, the community will trust the police and the government. War is not always won with the use of firearms.” (PNA)