Tuesday, July 04, 2006

EDITORIAL — No more VIP escorts

The Philippine Star

The Department of National Defense did it first, recalling thousands of military personnel detailed as security escorts of government officials and VIPs in the private sector. The soldiers were needed in the field and the VIP security service, the DND said, could be handled by the Philippine National Police.

Instead of replacing the recalled military bodyguards with PNP personnel, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, which has jurisdiction over the police, has followed suit by recalling 3,000 cops detailed as VIP escorts. Like the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the PNP is also undermanned, having only 118,000 cops to maintain peace and order in a country of 80 million people.

The DILG advised people who think they are in serious danger and needing special security to seek assistance from the PNP Private Security and Protection Office, which will assess if the reported threat truly warrants special police protection. The DILG is also studying the possibility of setting up a special office that will train civilians to become licensed security escorts.

The move is commendable; too many people in this country think one of the perks of public office is having a security escort. Some people in the private sector also consider it a status symbol to have bodyguards. Sustaining this move, however, is another story. This is not the first time that military and police security escorts have been recalled. But politicians and influential people in the private sector always found a way to get back their bodyguards.

Then there is the genuine security problem faced by too many individuals in this lawless country. Will people who have received kidnapping or death threats warrant security escorts? The recall of police bodyguards will have to be accompanied by an intensified effort to promote public safety. People will be ready to do away with bodyguards if they feel that the state is doing a good job of keeping them safe.

No comments: