Duterte to keep Davao bodyguards: police exec
Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News
DAVAO CITY - Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte will retain his set of bodyguards as mayor of Davao City as he assumes his new role as the country's chief executive, a police official said.
"Iyung mga dati nang nag-eescort sa kanya, sila pa rin, pero of course ma-aabsorb sila ng PSG [Presidential Security Group]," said Senior Superintendent Filmore Escobal, liaison officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) for PSG's transition preparations.
Escobal said a group of 36 Davao City policemen was sent to the PSG training school to learn the rudiments of protecting the president.
"Taga-Davao lahat ang pinadala at mag-training. Iyung PSG naman, they are preparing to take over, pero yung mga taga-Davao natin, pine-prepare natin na mag-training," Escobal said.
The PSG is now in the thick of preparations as Duterte is set to take his oath of office on June 30 in Malacañang.
READ: Duterte to take oath in Palace, give 5-minute speech
Duterte recently named Col. Rolando Bautista, commander of Joint Task Group Basilan, as his PSG commander.
Speaking to reporters here, the soft-spoken Bautista said he welcomes Duterte's appointment as both a challenge and an opportunity.
"Kilala natin si presumptive president at tinitingnan niya palagi ang service reputation ng isang opisyal. Nakatulong siguro [na magkakilala kami] pero alam naman natin na 'di lang iyon ang naging basis ni presumptive president, but more on merit and reputation," he said.
"Mas maganda yung may challenge para ma-train ka, at the same time, part ng preparations in case you will be occupying a higher position."
Bautista, 53, downplayed the impression that ensuring Duterte's safety will be harder than the usual, even as the long-time Davao City mayor has indicated he has no plans of foregoing his old habits and usual activities.
Duterte is known for going to slums to meet with the poor. He is also popular for driving around Davao City at night using his own taxi.
"For every contingency, there are corresponding actions. Iyung security nightmare, meron tayong prepared na counter-action, pero definitely, sabi ko nga, all security arrangements will be made on the desire of the presumptive president," he said.
But Bautista believes that Duterte will also consider their recommendations with regard to his security.
"He is very reasonable. Kapag meron kang sinabi, he will take that into consideration. Ang maganda sa ating presumptive president, he talks to anybody, kung sino yung pinaka-lowest ranking diyan, once he talks to you, he will always listen to your recommendations," he said.
READ: How incoming PSG chief will secure Duterte
Meanwhile, Davao City is also preparing for a massive victory party for Duterte on June 4.
The party, which will run from 1 p.m to 1 a.m. the next day, will be held at the Crocodile Park, and an estimated crowd of 250,000 will be in attendance, said Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, director of Region 11 police.