METRO MANILA, September 8, 2003 (STAR) Metro Manila police chief Deputy Director General Reynaldo Velasco has high hopes on the recent deployment of 80 Special Action Force (SAF) in Makati City and other parts of the metropolis.

"The deployment of the elite SAF personnel in the metropolis will be a big boost to our overall renewed campaign against bank robberies and other organized crimes as directed by President Arroyo," said Velasco.

Velasco, along with Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. presented to Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay the SAF team headed by its commander, Chief Superintendent Servando Hizon.

Ebdane ordered the deployment of SAF personnel in Metro Manila after heavily-armed robbers stormed the Citibank main office in Makati City and a bank branch in Parañaque City.

But the SAF personnel will not only be on guard against bank robbers but were also tasked to secure malls and embassies.

"SAF members are highly-motivated, highly-disciplined, and specially trained and equipped with the most modern equipment that technology can provide," he said.

Velasco added that the elite PNP force is trained to conduct special operations as a rapid deployment force in the country, especially in areas of counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, commando-type unconventional warfare, search and rescue, and civil disturbance management operations in times of national disaster and emergency.

"With the special skills and known effectiveness of the SAF, the PNP can effectively thwart any moves by various syndicates to conduct bank robberies and other illegal activities in the metropolis," said Velasco, whose office will have operational control of the SAF team.

SAF was organized on May 16, 1983 to as an elite unit to combat urban and rural terrorism in the country and other forms of criminality by then Chief of Staff and Chief of Philippine Constabulary Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos, with the assistance of former Chief of Operations Col. Renato de Villa.

"It was De Villa who asked Col. Rosendo Ferrer (now with Mirant Philippines) and General Sonny Razon (incumbernt Director for Human Resources and Development, who also headed SAF) to organize a Special Action Force to replace the Special Operations Group. SAF had its share of successful operations against criminal elements and insurgents in Kalinga, Apayao, Bicol region, Aurora province and Metro Manila," said Velasco.

Aside from Velasco, Hizon and Razon, other SAF commanders include Ebdane, Chief Superintendents Enrique Bulan, Dictador Alqueza, Recaredo Sarmiento, Edgar Aglipay, Marcelo Navarro, Rogelio Bathan and Jose Dalumpines. – Non Alquitran

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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