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Only 42 of 418 cops pass SWAT skills test

SWAT officers from the various Metro police districts take part in a skills retraining program at the NCRPO Training Ground, Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City yesterday. MANNY MARCELO

MANILA, Philippines - Only 42 of the 418 members of the police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams in Metro Manila passed the skills and physical fitness tests of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).

Metro Manila police chief Director Leocadio Santiago said the 376 policemen who failed the tests conducted last week could still return to the SWAT units, provided they pass the standard physical fitness requirements.

“At least 324 or 77.5 percent of those tested lacked fundamental SWAT skills while 93 others failed to complete and pass the individual skills tests,” Santiago said yesterday.

Of the 418 police SWAT members in Metro Manila, only 56 of them underwent physical tests mainly because of medical problems and old age.

The 42 who made the grade would remain in their respective SWAT units, Santiago said.

Santiago ordered the skills and physical fitness tests on all SWAT units in Metro Manila following the Aug. 23 Manila bus hostage incident that left eight Hong Kong tourists and the hostage taker dead.

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Because of the hostage incident debacle, President Aquino and Philippine National Police (PNP) ordered a review and assessment of SWAT skills.

The dismal result of the SWAT assessment program prompted Santiago to fast-track the retraining of all tactical units in Metro Manila.

Chief Superintendent Miguel Laurel, the NCRPO chief of staff and Assessment Team Leader, recommended the immediate implementation of a training program to reveal the physical fitness and individual skills of SWAT personnel to prevent another debacle.

Santiago led police officials in welcoming 211 policemen who volunteered to undergo more rigorous training for SWAT.

The police volunteers have undergone strict selection process supervised by cadre-instructors from the police Special Action Force (SAF).

“Candidates need to pass the battery of physical fitness, shooting skills, and neuro-psychiatric tests to move on to the training proper,” Santiago explained.

“From here on, all SWAT units would undergo standard training to be conducted by SAF instructors. This is necessary to ensure the inter-operability of the various SWAT units from the regional, district, city and municipal police offices in the entire Metro Manila,” he said.

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