COA: Not enough dogs to ‘protect the President’
MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte needs more “defenders”—not the online kind, but canine ones, that is.
The Commission on Audit has revealed in its recent audit report that the Presidential Security Group has been operating with fewer than the minimum number of K-9 bomb detection dogs needed to protect the President.
In its performance audit report, COA said PSG only had 20 dogs left as of Dec. 31. This falls short of the ideal number of 25 needed in “protecting the President through effective effective bomb detection operations during presidential engagements,” according to COA.
Seen to worsen the lack of security dogs is the retirement of five more dogs by 2018, upon reaching the maximum utilization of eight years.
As of Dec. 31, a total of 11 retired dogs have been subjected to “disposal,” which meant they were either donated to other government agencies or adopted by their K-9 handlers. The veterinary office has also recommended the retirement of three more due to old age and diminished capability.
Meanwhile, the resident auditor also received six requests for relief from property accountability due to the death of bomb dogs.
“With the 11 retired military dogs and five more expected to retire in CY 2018, the prime duty of the PSG in securing the safety of the President may not be effectively carried out,” the report read.
In response, the PSG’s Special Reaction Unit explained that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine Army K-9 units each lent two dogs to augment the shortage.
Still, COA noted the shortage was brought about by the fact that PSG did not procure a single bomb dog for the last 12 years. Almost all existing dogs were acquired through donation.
PSG explained it already requested the Army’s Operations Group 4 for the acquisition or procurement of 11 more bomb dogs to be used in presidential engagements. However, COA pointed out the new dogs would not immediately be up to the task because of the need to train them and bond with their handlers.
“The acquisition and training of K9s necessitates a tedious process before they are utilized in military operations,” the report stated, adding the PSG should inventory its dogs so acquisitions may be planned properly and timely.
The CoA urged the OG4 immediately act on the request for more dogs. It also recommended that requests be made to the AFP General Headquarters and the Department of Budget and Management for the inclusion of the procurement of more canines in the capital outlay budget for the year 2018.
PSG noted that the military higher-ups did not consider the proposal for the year 2017. It told CoA that it would submit a request and stress “the urgency, importance and detrimental effect it will have on the protective security operation for the President and other Very Very Important Persons (VVIPs).”
Another sticking point for CoA is the non-“disposal” of retired dogs. The 11 pooches mentioned above, worth P3.587 million, would have given the agency additional income had they been auctioned off, instead of donated to other agencies or adopted by their familiar human companions.
Not only was the PSG deprived of additional income, CoA said the retired dogs continued to use up limited resources through the subsistence allowance allotted for the care and medicine of those still under the military’s custody.
“These resources could have been used by Management in the procurement of military bomb dogs when these retired assets were earlier disposed pursuant to the provisions of AGPCR2, SOP Number 7,” the report stated.
PSG, however, said the eight-year utilization of the dogs works against their effective use and viable “disposal” through public auction. Despite the shortage, it told CoA that it would recommend the period be shortened to just five years.
“Based on experience and actual operation, a 5-year military working dog already showed signs of poor performance and deteriorated physical condition making them ineffective for bomb detection which is a
critical part of the entire protective security operation for the President and other VVIPs,” COA quoted PSG as saying. SFM
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