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200 lawmakers sign resolution for Noy's bulletproof car

- Paolo Romero -

MANILA, Philippines - Nearly 200 lawmakers signed a resolution urging the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to acquire a bulletproof and bombproof vehicle for President Aquino to replace the damaged and accident-prone car seldom used by Malacañang.

The signatories to House Resolution 2191, led by An Waray party-list Rep. Florencio Noel, Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, Laguna Rep. Danilo Fernandez, and Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, said Aquino was forced to use his personal car because of the lack of a presidential vehicle in his various visits all over the country.

The resolution cited the urgency for the government “to acquire a new state car equipped with the latest security features, so the PSG (Presidential Security Group) can better protect the President in the face of stepped-up attacks by international terrorists who use improvised explosive device (IED) bombs to assassinate their targeted dignitaries.”

The lawmakers said the DBM could realign funds from government savings for this long-needed acquisition of a state car for the President, which will also be used by visiting heads of state.

On top of the intermittent breakdowns of the vehicles in the official presidential fleet, the lawmakers pointed out “the President’s ‘no wang-wang’(siren) policy and his strict orders for his security detail to stop their convoy whenever the traffic lights turn red has made the Chief Executive far more vulnerable to possible terrorist attacks.”

“Be it as it is hereby resolved, that Movement 188 urges the DBM to help beef up security measures for President Aquino in the face of heightening global terrorist attacks by setting aside funds from government savings for the acquisition of a bulletproof and bombproof presidential state car to replace the flood-damaged official vehicle that has been sidelined by the PSG for security reasons,” said the lawmakers comprising Movement 188.

Given that the security of the President should have paramount concern in view of his position as the highest elective official of the land, the lawmakers said, “the advent of IED bombs used by international terrorists necessitates the use by the highest official of the land of a state car that is not only bulletproof but bombproof as well.”

They said IEDs were used in last year’s separate attacks on the convoy of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo in Cotabato City and that of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu in Tacurong City.

Nobody was hurt in the Robredo incident but local media reports bared that Maguindanao board member Russman Sinsuat Sr. and a passerby were killed when an IED in a parked Kia car exploded and hit the third car in Mangudatatu’s convoy.

Local police suspected that Basit Usman, who is on the US list of most wanted terrorists with a $1 million price on his head, was behind Robredo’s car bombing incident as he is known to be a maker of IEDs.

The three-vehicle official presidential fleet at Malacañang Palace-consisting of two Mercedes- Benz W221 S-Class limousines acquired way back in 1998 and a Mercedes-Benz S-Guard automobile bought in 2007-is “in a sorry state unfit for use by the Chief Executive,” the resolution said.

It noted that “the two 1998-model vehicles are already unreliable because of wear and tear, and the relatively newer one bought in 2007 has been beset with intermittent, computer-related engine failures ever since it was submerged in floodwaters during the onslaught of Typhoon Ondoy.”

“The three vehicles’ dealer-CATS Motors Inc.-that is also in-charge of maintaining these cars, has given up on the 2007-acquired vehicle after repairing it six times since Typhoon Ondoy’s attack, and already advised the PSG against deploying it for the President’s use as it could malfunction anytime,” the resolution read.

The PSG has revealed that it has stopped using the repair-prone 2007 limousine as primary or secondary backup vehicle for Aquino, from the time it conked out on the road during a presidential trip to Baguio City last year.

“The PSG can better protect the President if he were to use as official state car a new automobile equipped with the latest security features such as those being used right now by other heads of state,” it said.

“The governments of many countries, including most of those in our neighbor-states, have already upgraded the official vehicles of their national leaders in consideration of the heightened global terrorist attacks that use IED bombs as one weapon of choice,” it said.

AN WARAY

AQUINO

CAR

CHIEF EXECUTIVE

PRESIDENT

PRESIDENT AQUINO

STATE

TYPHOON ONDOY

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