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COVID-19 in the Philippines: Expanding the role and capabilities of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown numerous challenges and created new opportunities for law enforcement and public safety (LEPS) agencies in the Philippines. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) together with the Bureau of Fire Protection are the LEPS agencies that were mobilized to be part of the National Joint Task Force (NJTF)-COVID SHIELD. This task force is responsible for the security and public safety component of the government's overall strategy to control the outbreak The PCG and PNP were also tasked to augment the existing resources of the Department of Health (DOH) and local government units. However, the pandemic has uncovered challenges in its ability to conduct population control, port security, public affairs, and medical support as part of the national disease mitigation efforts. Both agencies have also recorded a significant number of COVID-19 infections among its personnel. Also, the pandemic has forced both agencies to transform their units to respond to various missions that are often incompatible with its LEPS mandate. This policy brief discusses the role of the PNP and PCG in the national COVID-19 response. It also examines the organizational challenges and explore ways on how to enhance its capabilities as well as stress the importance of reexamining its roles given the changing national security environment. The brief also discusses the possible policy alternatives related to the following: (a) The need to improve its capabilities in Chemical Biological Radioactive Nuclear (CBRN) response; (b) Propose new roles for the PCG and PNP auxiliary units, and (c) Strengthen its public affairs and community relations capabilities.


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