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Police officers belonging to the Reactionary Standby Support Force (RSSF) hold a formation in a send-off ceremony at Camp Crame, Quezon City on Friday / PNA

PNP deploys 1,000 cops to areas affected by Taal eruption

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The Philippine National Police (PNP) said it mobilized more than 1,000 cops to help in the evacuation and other disaster response efforts in areas affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.

The police officers are members of the Reactionary Standby Support Force (RSSF) headed by Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo.

PNP Chief of the Directorial Staff, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, said 693 police officers were deployed to Batangas and 324 in Cavite.

The police officers deployed to Cavite and Batangas were given face masks and goggles for their protection.

"This is the time for you to show what you are trained for, what you are capable to do in the name of peace and order, of public service," Eleazar said in a speech during the send-off ceremony at Camp Crame.

He said PNP officer-in-charge, Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa approved the deployment of the police officers, citing that the latter deemed it necessary for the policemen who were earlier deployed in the disaster-hit areas to take a rest.

Most of the policemen, who would be replaced will be given the opportunity to visit their families and relatives, also affected by the Taal Volcano eruption, he said.

"Most of the policemen who were tapped for disaster response since Sunday are local residents of affected areas in Batangas and Cavite. They also have affected families and relatives but they chose to serve because of the call of duty," he said.

He said the priority of the deployed forces is to assure the maintenance of peace and order in the areas.

"In the few past days, we became witnesses on the hardship that our kababayans in Batangas are going through and the sacrifices of our fellow policemen assigned there to assist those in need and to put them in safety in television news and social media posts," Eleazar said.

He said some of the policemen even went to the extent of rescuing and evacuating large animals.

"This is one of those rare moments when we go beyond our duty to serve the Filipino people. Let us take this opportunity as a chance to do our share in helping our fellow Filipinos, the very people we vow to serve and protect," Eleazar said.

He said the policemen will assist in evacuation, patrol of areas placed under lockdown and assist in relief and other disaster-response efforts in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte's order.

"The areas declared under lockdown should also be secured for the peace of mind of the local residents, for them no to go back because of the risk of an imminent eruption anytime," Eleazar said.

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