THE Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) signed on Monday, September 2, a memorandum of understanding to further strengthen their partnership to ensure safety and security of both foreign and local tourists in the country amid various threats posed by criminal groups and insurgents.
PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde and DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat signed the Tourist-Oriented Police for Community Order and Protection (Topcop) agreement in Camp Crame.
“Amid the threats to security brought by criminals, insurgents, and terrorists we have maintained peace and order and continue to keep the nation as a safe haven for tourists,” said Albayalde.
He said the agreement aims to further develop the Topcop program which was initially forged in 2011, through related training and capacity-building in the regional and provincial levels and establishment of Tourist Police Assistance Desks (TPADs) in police station of cities and municipalities identified by DOT as tourist destinations or in the periphery of high-tourism traffic areas.
“Tourist police are now highly trained, well equipped and constantly prepared in performing their duties to show that the Philippines is not just a beautiful country but a safe destination for tourists,” Albayalde said.
“We took another significant step forward in our shared effort to continually seek better ways to serve and protect not only our countrymen but also foreign nationals who come to our country to visit and see the sites and do business,” he added.
Among the conditions in the agreement was the allocation of necessary funds and resources for the maintenance and operations of Topcop as well as the development of a continuing training and education program for members of the Topcop to enhance their capabilities in managing security in the destination and the coordination between national government agencies, the private sector, and other stakeholders for support and assistance in the implementation and sustained operations of TOPCOP.
For her part, Puyat said she was extremely delighted that they have signed a new MOU which she said was an emphasis on setting the bar for Filipino hospitality.
“We certainly could not do it alone. It is hence encouraging to know the PNP is rallying behind our tourism campaign of making travel around the country more fun, more safe and secure. Thank you for willingly sharing this daunting task with us. The PNP's commitment to serve and protect through an equal service to our citizens and foreign travelers alike is laudable,” Puyat said in her speech.
To date, the Topcop program has trained around 4,600 tourist police in key tourist destinations in the country and about 3,500 of these top cops are already under phase 2 of the program and are more than ready to respond to the call of duty.
The PNP has also continued to build tourist assistance centers and tourist assistance in strategic locations all over the country as part of its commitment.
“We look up to you to fulfill our mandate of contributing more inclusive impact in the lives of our fellow filipinos. With your help and with all of you present here we can rest assure that we are not alone in sending a strong message to our visiting tourists that our country will continue and always be a safe destination,” said Puyat.
“It's indeed more fun in the Philippines with government agencies like the PNP believing that our country's success is just within arm's reach,” she added. (SunStar Philippines)