A joint police interoperability and maritime exercise on law enforcement and security against terrorism were conducted in Honda Bay, Barangay Sta. Lourdes on Friday.
The maritime law enforcement exercise (MARLEX) was between assault forces belonging to the Special Operations Unit-Maritime Group (SOU-MG) and the City Police Office (CPO).
A Malaysian taken hostage and terrorist-kidnappers formed the action-packed backdrop to a major rescue simulation exercise (SIMEX) involving the two police forces in Puerto Princesa City.
The whole afternoon event saw 24 personnel of the SOU-MG and the CPO responding to a realistic live rescue of the Malaysian national near Cowrie Island.
The MARLEX saw the two police organizations in the city countering a kidnapping incident by working with each other at the command of their team leaders.
Police Superintendent Greg Togonon, commander of the SOU-MG, said the maritime law enforcement exercise included a demonstration of seaborne hot pursuit, hostage-taking, search and rescue, interdicting and preventing vessel movement, and board, search and seizure operations.
“Napakaganda ng ginagawa natin. Makikita natin [dito] ang interoperability at roles na ginagampanan ng bawat isa. Ipagpapatuloy namin ito para i-level up ang capability at capacity ng ating mga pulis through more simulation exercises,” said Togonon.
Superintendent Ronnie Francis Cariaga of the CPO said what they wanted is for their policemen to boost cooperation and coordination in preventing and combating the same incident that happened in 2001, where members of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf kidnapped Dos Palmas Island Resort guests.
“Kidnapping incident yung scenario [sa SIMEX] kasi may history. May nangyaring ganito noon sa Dos Palmas in 2001,” he explained.
Cariaga added if they have enough resources, the SOU-MG and the CPO will be doing more MARLEX for dexterity and proficiency.
“If we have enough resources mas mapapalawak pa natin ito, and hopefully with other agencies in the future,” he said.
During the exercise, Cariaga noted the need for a communication line that has a separate radio signal or frequency for use of the operating units.
He said it is required to ensure that regular radio traffic will not interrupt special rescue mission.
“There should be no intervention so that the operating units can carry out their tasks effectively. At mahalaga din na maghanap ng frequency na hindi masyado ang communication traffic,” the city director said.
The exercise was made to prepare the forces for possible scenarios like this.
The purpose of the exercise is to prepare and capacitate the law enforcement and to determine how will they react during this specific incident.
“Titingnan kung paano mag react ang local police at maritime group sa insidente” PSI Pearl Manyll Marzo, information officer of City PNP.
“Dito titingnan din paano gagalaw ang ibat ibang law enforcement, kung gaano kabilis ang reaction at paghandle ng pulis. Paano ma rescue yung biktima at iba pa” Marzo added.
The two teams were composed of twelve personnel each headed by team leaders approximately 24 teams of SWAT at assault forces divided into two teams. PSUPT Ronie Bacuel, deputy city director for administration is the incident commander of the exercise.
PSUPT Greg Togonon, commander of SOU MG said that the exercise will make the forces prepared in times of incident thus very capable of handling the proper response.
“Napakaganda ng ginagawa natin. Makita natin ang inter operability at ang roles na ginagampanan ng bawat isa. Ipagpapatuloy namin ito para e leve up ng sa ganun ay lahat maging bihasa thru more simulation exercises” he said.
Superintendent Ronnie Bacuel, also from the CPO, stressed the importance of this need, and of a navigational plan and interconnectivity of communication.
“Dapat may iisang frequency na may connections sa SOU-MG at CPO, at may communications sa mga police stations,” he explained.