Police mobility is highly essential in crime fighting. If a police patrol car is slow, cops cannot respond quickly to, say, a robbery in progress somewhere. By the time policemen reach the crime scene, robbers may have already absconded.
Robbers with a faster getaway vehicle may outrun cops in hot pursuit if the latter’s car breaks down frequently or is hard to maneuver. And it would be a great shame to policemen who arrive late in a hostage situation as lives are at stake.
Law enforcers with smoke-belching cars would not only be farcical, but also subject to complaints.
And what if a patrol car were hard to maintain or repair due to lack of spare parts? It would be a derelict that renders the police force less potent.
It is upsetting to know that more than 2,000 patrol cars of the Philippine National Police (PNP), purchased for nearly P2 billion in 2015 from an Indian manufacturer, are ridden with precisely those issues mentioned above, aside from allegedly being gas guzzlers. The Commission on Audit report was based on the feedback of police officers who had used the Mahindra Enforcer and Scorpio patrol cars.
The supplier had defended itself from questions on why it won the bidding, such as being a company that is 60 percent owned by Filipinos; being the only distributor among the bidders that were mostly car dealers; having a local factory that makes the bodies for the Enforcer; and for complying with changes in engine specification and bidding requirements.
But the question remains: Why were the vehicles bought allegedly without having undergone an operational needs assessment? This compromises the PNP’s Capability Enhancement Program (CEP), a police equipment and asset acquisition and upgrading plan.
Another question that needs an answer is why no performance evaluation was made on the initially purchased 1,656 patrol vehicles before they were bought and the additional units that have reportedly left 206 cars underutilized.
Because of the Mahindra patrol cars’ frequent breakdowns, the PNP has had to spend P59.37 million for repair services. That amount could have been used for buying patrol jeeps.
While the latest PNP pronouncement that it would no longer buy Mahindra patrol cars because of its experience with the Enforcer and Scorpio is a prudent decision, Sen. Grace Poe is seeking the accountability of PNP officials behind the contracts.
The issues about the Mahindra patrol cars revolve around the disadvantages or deficiencies of the units. How these have adversely affected police operations and service is unclear, yet any impact of said vehicles on public safety and the protection of life and property deserves scrutiny.
There is a good reason why the police force’s patrol fleet should be the best quality. The public deserves the utmost protection and fastest response in matters of life and death.
Concept News Central