Protecting the Tulfos: Why the PNP deploys security escorts to some individuals

Protecting the Tulfos: Why the PNP deploys security escorts to some individuals
Who is allowed to have security escorts?
Philstar.com / AJ Bolando, file

The privilege can be revoked, PNP chief says

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police can assign anyone a security detail if there is a threat to their security, Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde, Philippine National Police chief, said Monday, adding, however, that it is a privilege that can be revoked.

Speaking at a press briefing on Monday, Albayalde said that applicants for protection need to undergo a threat assessment to detrmine if they really need police escorts.

He said security can be detailed to "anybody that we think, after undergoing the process, really has a threat to their life whether they are Pedro or Juan or Maria."

Albayalde stressed, though, that like licenses to own and carry firearms, "these privileges can always be revoked any time, especially since something happened." 

He was referring to comments and threats that broadcaster Erwin Tulfo made against Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista last week. 

It was reported over the weekend that police escorts assigned to Tulfo, his wife, and siblings have been recalled. Albayalde stressed that the comments "were not the basic reason, but that is a factor, of course."

He said in the same briefing that the Tulfos have had police escorts for a long time, even before he was a senior PNP official.

Police Brigadier General Filmore Escobal, chief of the PNP Police Security and Protection Group, said in the same briefing that the assignment of police security details is reviewed monthly and that details are assigned for up to six months. 

Applications for security details can be renewed, he also said.

The police escorts for the Tulfos were recalled as part of the periodic evaluation, he said.

In October 2018, police said politicians who needed protection during the midterm election season should also consider private security agencies because assigning police personnel would impact the PNP's other duties.

At the time, the national police chief said more than 10,000 PNP personnel could be deployed to patrol the streets instead of protecting VIPs.

Escobal said Monday that the Tulfos had been given a Commission on Elections exemption to keep their security details.

Duterte limits security for VIPs

President Rodrigo Duterte said last September that the government will restrict the number of guns and bodyguards that politicians would be allowed to have. He said the measure would help curb intimidation and vote-buying during the election period.

Also in 2018, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV was called out for having twice the number of security escorts allowed under the Alunan doctrine, ABS-CBN reported.

Introduced during the Ramos administration by Rafael Alunan III,  who was Interior secretary at the time, the doctrine caps the number of escorts allowed to politicians to two.

Trillanes had eight security escorts, four from the police and another four from the military. PSPG director Escobal said then that that was violative of the doctrine— Philstar.com intern Edelito Mercene Jr.





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