A select group of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been sent to China for a very special mission.
From August 8 to 18, the sports teams of the PNP, known as the Responders, are set to compete in the 2019 World Police and Fire Games — a biennial athletic event, open to active and retired law enforcement and fire service personnel throughout the world.
“For the last six years, we have been sending teams to this annual meet to show the world that our police force is as athletic as the other countries’ forces,” said Lt. Gen. Camilo Pancratius Cascolan. “Our sporting teams are the pride and joy of our 170,000 personnel.”
A total of 12 PNP teams across nine sports will compete in the global meet, headlined by the 45-and-up basketball team.
Composing the 45-over team are PCMS Ariel Saldua, PSMS Harold Decena, PSMS Zherwin Mendiola, PSSg Ronaldo Abaya, Pssg Ricardo Cabrera, PSSg Mariano Flormata, PSSg Mark Nicolas, PCpl Antonio Tolentino, PCpl Jarold Dia, PCpl Rollie Serrano, NUP Ernie Sta. Cruz, and playing-coach PSSg Abdul Khair Bayabao.
Bayabao’s squad has been together for the last six years and took part in the 2015 and 2017 edition of the meet in Washington and Los Angeles, respectively.
“Maganda yung experience na yun. Dito namin natupad yung pangarap namin na ma-represent yung Pilipinas,” said Bayabao.
“Parang ito na yung Gilas moment namin.”
Though Lt. Gen. Cascolan’s marching orders to the team is to win it all, Bayabao is just hoping for one thing.
“Siguro, makakuha ng silver. Kahit hindi muna gold,” he quipped. “Pero ang pinakaimportante ay yung makalaro kami ng maayos at hindi kami mapilayan.”
Supporting this endeavor by the PNP is local sporting apparel manufacturer Team Rebel Sports Pilipinas.
Team Rebel supplied almost all the teams with quality apparel, wanting to give the team kits that they can be proud of.
“We’ve been supporting them every year. As you can see, nandito tayo sa Camp Crame. Friends natin yung mga players/policemen. They are going up against the LAPD, the NYPD, police from Vietnam and China,” said Team Rebel owner Joel Cu.
“Malaking bagay ito kasi at least hindi na nila proproblemahin yung pagkakaroon ng uniforms they could be proud of. At least yung budget nila mapunta sa gagastusin nila dun.”
And Cu is looking forward to giving back to the other groups of the armed forces in the coming years.
“We are hoping that we could support the other uniformed personnel as well like Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force. They are sacrificing for the country. This is our way of thanking them for protecting our country.”