A solon is calling for the Philippine presidential fleet to be upgraded after learning of the vehicles have been breaking down conditions from a member of the Presidential Security Group (PSG).
"It is quite alarming to learn that our presidential fleet has not been upgraded since the time of President Ramos. I learned that they are now unreliable due to frequent mechanical and electrical breakdowns. The condition was aggravated after the presidential fleet was flooded due to Typhoon Ondoy and it damaged most of its electrical parts and engine computer sensors," said Rep. Mel Sarmiento (1st District, Samar).
According to Sarmiento, the PSG personnel said the vehicles that make up the presidential fleet are now in a 'sorry' state. They are considered outdated, especially in terms of security features, compared with presidential state cars used by leaders in other countries, particularly in the ASEAN region.
"Our aging presidential fleet was only designed to be bullet proof. But with the current modus operandi of terrorists using IEDs (improvised explosive devices), I believe our presidential fleet cannot fully protect the passengers inside it," Sarmiento said. "A lunatic can just serve as a suicide bomber and rush towards the presidential car. Gone are the days where a sharpshooter aims at their target from afar, or ambushes them. This style of assassination attempts gave rise to bulletproof vehicles. Times have changed, and to fully secure our President, the vehicle must likewise be bomb-proof."
Sarmiento, who is vice chairman for the Lower House's Committee on Public Order and Safety, said the importance of protecting the security of the President, as well as other visiting heads of state and dignitaries who also ride in the presidential fleet during their stay here, are under the country's responsibility and should never be overlooked.
Sarmiento also learned that the government now has to lease bullet and bomb proof vehicles from a high-end car dealer whenever foreign dignitaries visit the country instead of using our own presidential fleet to make sure that these vehicles will not stall along the way. Moreover, Sarmiento added, this high-end car dealer, which is also in charge of maintaining the presidential fleet, has suggested to the PSG to consider replacing rather than leasing security vehicles as a more cost-effective measure.
"I hope our people will not disapprove of replacing our aging presidential fleet. Progressive nations around the world take pride of protecting their highest leader with paramount significance and must not be compromised. I hope we do the same," Sarmiento said.
If legislators give this proposal a green light, what vehicles should the PSG get and what special security features should they carry? Type away!