Talk about a comeback.
Almost a year after their unit’s botched attempt to rescue a busload of Hong Kong tourists being held hostage at the Quirino Grandstand, two Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams from the Manila Police District (MPD) topped the annual SWAT competition of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), which ended Sunday.
NCRPO director Chief Superintendent Alan Purisima said the MPD SWAT teams’ achievement showed “an improvement [in] their skills.”
“That’s what we want to achieve in these competitions. These are designed for special units to respond to different scenarios,” he told the Inquirer in a phone interview Sunday.
According to NCRPO spokesman, Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos, the MPD’s Team 2 bagged first place in the annual competition held among the different SWAT teams of the five police districts in Metro Manila.
The winning team was composed of Senior Police Officer 2 Raul Baldomar, PO3 Chris Lobrin, PO2 Zobar Lugtuan and PO1 Froilan Joe Dulnuan.
The MPD’s Team 1, on the other hand, clinched the second spot while the Southern Police District’s Team 2 placed third.
Of the eight members of the two winning MPD teams, four saw action in the Aug. 23, 2010, hostage-taking at Rizal Park which left eight Hong Kong tourists and the hostage-taker, dismissed Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza, dead.
After the botched rescue attempt, the MPD SWAT team was severely criticized for its failure to resolve the situation without any casualties.
Purisima, meanwhile, noted that the situations the participants were exposed to were “simple” and that he wanted more “complicated scenarios.”
“The competitions help us assess the capability and capacity of our SWAT units to make sure that the skills they acquire in training would become part of them permanently,” he said.
In a statement issued last week, Purisima said the competition would “test [the] close quarter battle techniques of all participating SWAT teams which [simulate] potentially life-threatening armed engagements.”
A total of 46 teams, composed of four men each, participated in the contest.
Reached by the Inquirer, MPD SWAT head, Chief Insp. Dong Navales said that half of the members of the winning MPD teams were among those who took part in the Quirino Grandstand rescue. The rest, he added, were from a new batch of SWAT men.
Navales, who was appointed only after the hostage taking, said his men’s twin victory only proved that they were “well-trained.”
“My personnel are better now. My focus has been on training them while there are no deployments so what happened at Luneta won’t happen again,” he added.
“This victory will go a long way to motivate us. We’re still facilitating availability of equipment but despite that, we were still able to do it,” Navales said.
“I am proud of the MPD SWAT. With this, we hope the negative impression of them will become positive again. Even if this is just a competition, it proves our boys are efficient,” MPD director Chief Supt. Roberto Rongavilla said in a phone interview.
Their achievement only serves to show that the MPD has “a breed of police officers that are good,” he added.