By Martin Sadongdong
The country’s first-ever counter-terrorism training center is set to be constructed in Cavite before the end of 2019.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Oscar Albayalde and US Ambassador Sung Kim led the groundbreaking ceremony of the planned regional counter-terrorism training center at Camp General Mariano Castaneda in Silang town on Friday.
Albayalde said the planned state-of-the-art training center would also be the first of its kind in Southeast Asia.
The US Embassy said the training center will be an avenue “to provide counter-terrorism training for law enforcement units and personnel from the Philippines and regional partner nations in Southeast Asia.”
Albayalde emphasized the importance of building the facility as the Philippines faces a number of evolving security threats, especially with the emergence of suicide bombers in the country.
In the past 15 months, at least four suicide bombing incidents have been recorded by the police and military.
During the course of those months, authorities encountered an incident involving the first known Filipino suicide bomber identified as Norman Lasuca.
Albayalde thanked the US government for its commitment to fight the global threat of terrorism.
“For years, the US Government [has] always [been] ready to help the PNP’s campaign to strengthen our mechanism for our counter-terrorism efforts,” Albayalde said.
The PNP and US Embassy signed last August 15 a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize the establishment of the regional counter-terrorism training center in the Philippines.
The US Embassy said it has secured P520 million ($10 million) in counter-terrorism partnership funds to establish and jointly operate the center with the PNP.
“We believe this program will enhance and boost up our capabilities to address threats posed by domestic and transnational terrorism,” Albayalde noted.