PNP group to Darfur honored

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Philippine National Police leadership, headed by Director General Jesus A. Verzosa yesterday paid tribute to 94 policemen who will fly to war-torn Darfur to be part of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operations.

Verzosa expressed his pride and approval on the deployment of PNP personnel in Darfur, saying it is an “honor for the PNP to be recognized and given a high regard by the United Nations.”

In his speech during last Tuesday’s send-off ceremony, PNP Deputy Chief for Administration Deputy Director General Geary L. Barias expressed his confidence on the PNP delegation to “effect change, bring peace and stability and be a positive influence.”

“As you go on this mission, remember that you represent the Philippine National Police and as such, I implore you to uphold the highest standards of professionalism and conduct,” Barias said.

According to PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Nicanor A. Bartolome, this is the second contingent that the PNP will be sending to Darfur. The first batch with 37 contingents left Wednesday while the second batch with 15 members left yesterday. The others are still waiting for their visa.

The UNAMID contingent from the PNP includes seven policewomen, three of them officers including Senior Inspector Pamela Helaga of PNP Academy Class 2002.

A mother of two young kids, Pamela will be joining her husband and PNPA classmate, Chief Insp. Reynaldo Helaga, in the mission. A total of 87 male officers, 44 of them police commissioned officers, compose the contingent whose members will each receive a US$143 daily allowance.

“Darfur, torn by infighting for several years now, presents a very challenging peacekeeping and humanitarian mission. However, I have the supreme confidence that all of you will be up to it. It may be difficult but there is a great potential for you to effect change, bring peace and stability and be a positive influence to a place that has seen so much strife in recent years,” Barias told the departing policemen.

The PNP sent its first contingent in Darfur on January 14 last year in response to the U.N.’s request to send peacekeepers in the strife-torn country, said PNP Director for Plans Teodorico B. Capuyan.

Capuyan said that following the first contingent’s exemplary performance in Darfur, the U.N. requested their extended stay in the African country although the PNP leadership, due to its “no U.N. mission extension policy,” declined the request and recruited the new member of the second contingent.

Capuyan said that the PNP personnel will be joining other peacekeepers from around the globe as members of the U.N. police and ambassadors of goodwill in Darfur.

Another DPL official, Senior Supt. Rodolfo Fuentes, said that as U.N. peacekeepers, the policemen will be joining the UNAMID force in attempting to suppress the growing violence in the war-ravaged country.

Darfur has been the scene of some of the world’s most humanitarian crises since fighting broke out in 2003 between Sudan government forces, allied Janjaweed militia and heavily-armed rebel groups fighting for control of the region.

Barias said that as a founding member of the U.N., the Philippine government has the responsibility to assist the people of Darfur where an estimated 200,000 people have died from the combined effects of war, famine and disease.