THE Philippine National Police yesterday officially commissioned into service its first brand-new helicopter this year, with outgoing PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa and four of his mistahs from Philippine Military Academy “Sinagtala” Class of 1986 as its first passengers in an hour-long trip to Baguio City.
The nearly half-a-billion peso worth of helicopter piloted by a Canadian-French pilot successfully landed in Baguio City with Gen. Dela Rosa, PNP Chief Directorial Staff Deputy Director General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, PNP Director for Comptrollership Director Ramon O. Purugganan, PNP Director for Operations Director Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan and PNP Director for Logistics Director Jose Maria Victor DF Ramos all sound and safe.
“We are grateful to the national leadership for its genuine concern for the police force by providing for our operational requirements. With better equipment, sufficient funds, and upgraded wages for personnel, there is no reason to fail in our mission to serve and protect our people,” Dela Rosa said.
According to Dela Rosa, the PNP’s acquisition of the Bell 429 twin-engine rotary wing aircraft will greatly enhance the operational flexibility of the police by providing air support to ground troops.
“This multi-role police helicopter is designed to perform a variety of air support missions,” he said.
The new helicopter was acquired by the PNP through a public bidding.
The supply contract was awarded on June 28, 2017 to Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas at a contract price of P435,797,548 funded from the General Appropriations Act of 2017.
The unit was delivered and inspected last April 12, three months ahead of the delivery schedule on July 5.
Gamboa, the man in-charge of the acquisition of the latest PNP equipment said that a PNP pilot with a rank of Superintendent underwent a two-week training in Texas using a similar aircraft as part of the contract with Bell company.
However, Gamboa said the PNP pilot lacks the required flying hours before he can fly the Bell helicopter, and needs to be assisted by a foreign pilot.
Gamboa said at present, the PNP has three rated helicopter pilots and expected to produce 12 to 15 more since they are expecting six more helicopters very soon.
“We have to have a pool of pilots who can expertly fly our aircrafts,” he said.
The Bell helicopter was purchased by the PNP before President Duterte decided to cancel all PNP contracts with the United States and the Canadian governments regarding the purchase of aircrafts amid concerns on human rights raised by officials of the two countries regarding the ongoing PNP’s war on drugs.