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A fitter force vs drugs

The Philippine National Police is doing everything possible to become a fitter force against drugs. Yesterday, the PNP celebrated the 22nd anniversary of police community relations with a huge bike ride from Rizal Park to The grandstand at headquarters in Camp Crame. Dubbed “Freedom Ride: Kalayaan Kontra Droga”, it featured over four thousand five hundred cyclists from all over Metro Manila and nearby provinces, taking off from Luneta at 7 a.m. and trickling into the police camp an hour later. More than four hundred of the cyclists were police officers.

“With this bike race, we are sending a very strong message that the race against drugs will continue until we reach the finish line,” said PNP Chief, Director-General Ronald Dela Rosa in his address.

The riders filled the edge of the track oval along the entire front of the grandstand, thanks to the help of the National Bicycle Organization. Leading the pack was Police Chief Superintendent Gilberto Cruz, Director of the Police Community Relations Group, whose office coordinated the massive event. Also in attendance were officials and representatives of the Dangerous Drugs Board, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Education, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Metropolitan Bataan Development Authority, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and civic organizations like the Philippine National Red Cross, citizens’ groups against crime and foreign visitors. All those groups participated in a massive parade to highlight the occasion.

“It wasn’t hard to organize, because most of them have been our partners for a while,” admitted Gen. Cruz. “We only had to make room for our new partners this year.”

Given the daunting task of subduing the drug problem in the country, even the policemen themselves are getting fitter and stronger. The generals, the top brass themselves, are playing in the finals of the UNTV Executive Cup tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, setting the tone for the rest of the organization. The PNP Responders had previously won the UNTV Cup which included many former PBA players and younger police officers and members of five other government agencies. Physical fitness is something that the police force takes very seriously.

The PNP has also committed to losing 500,000 pounds in weight as a unit as part of the Fit Filipinos Challenge posted by health and fitness experts Jim and Toni Saret. Dela Rosa himself was an amateur boxer who idolized Flash Elorde. Considering that the goal for the entire nation is 1,000,000 pounds in weight loss, our cops are taking on a huge task all on their own, the total weight loss representing roughly four pounds per policeman.

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Beyond that, the PNP is partnering with the National Athletic Committee (NAC) Philippines to help further enhance the positive image of our peacekeepers. After the successful “Gwapulis” search for good-looking, well-rounded officers of the law, the NAC will provide technical support for a nationwide amateur bodybuilding contest featuring men and women in uniform, to show the public that our police officers are the paragon of health and virtue. It will be part of showing a more human, more approachable public face of our police force, riding on the tidal wave of fitness which has been sweeping the country.

Given the huge number of surrendering drug addicts, the police are also looking at creating a regular fitness regimen for the recovering addicts, to help accelerate their reintegration into society. Having a stable routine and good health habits strengthens them physically and mentally. Coupled with professional counseling, meditation and other exercises, it makes them less likely to fall back on their old vices. This is where the PNP and NAC will make the biggest impact together.

A stronger police force makes for a more efficient weapon against crime and criminality. Leaner, healthier cops on the streets and around our waters will likewise make the nation stronger and more productive. More and more Filipinos are learning to appreciate the heroic efforts of the PNP to stand in harm’s way for others. It’s always the way it has been. Police Community Relations under Police Chief Superintendent Noel Constantino will make sure that with a fitter police force comes better results. And that will help all of us sleep better at night.

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