By Djiego Igama
Much like its ever-evolving military counterpart, the Philippine National Police is undergoing a series of modernization with the intent to transform the “…PNP into an organization on par with other law enforcement agencies around the world.”, as stated by the Philippine House of Representatives. This is a multifaceted modernization program that includes a revamp of their organizational structure, developing areas in manpower buildup, training, manual and doctrines, infrastructure such as police stations, financial development, and equipment acquisition and modernization.
As part of the PNP’s modernization plan, a significant amount of equipment conducive to an effective police agency are being purchased, including vehicles, tactical equipment, investigative supplies, and firearms. In 2018, many firms selling Israeli weapons were given notice of awards for the purchase of Galil ACE rifles, Negev light machine guns, Emtan Karmiel MZ-4Ps (M4-like platforms), IWI Masada striker-fired handguns, as well as Gen. 4 Glock 17’s, which numbers wise, appear to be the PNP’s primary service handgun. Glock and IWI has provided the Philippine police force with firearms in the past. As a matter of fact, many Galil SAR rifles are still stored in the PNP inventory as a holdover from the pre-1991 Constabulary era, when there was an Integrated National Police force and a Constabulary that acted as a gendarmerie-like force as well as a branch of the armed forces.
When observing the procurement of small arms for the PNP, one weapon stands out from the rest. This is the Canik TP9SF Elite-S, a 9mm handgun made in Turkey. Many of the weapons in the armories of the PNP are of US, South Korean, Israeli, or indigenously manufactured sources, such as UDMC (United Defense Manufacturing Corporation). It is very interesting to see the Turkish pistol making its way to the hands of Filipino policemen, however, Canik and its TP9 series has experienced rather positive acclaim in the government and civilian market around the world, so the top brass of the PNP had good reason to see it as a qualified handgun to supplement its force.
The Canik TP9 is a striker-fired handgun developed by Samsun Yurt Savunma, a Turkish company founded in 2000 that produces handguns under the Canik brand, and introduced the TP9 fleet of handguns in the early 2010s. Much like many contemporary striker-fired handguns, it’s chambered in 9x19mm, and the magazine capacity is 15 plus one in the chamber. Different sizes of back straps and reversible magazine release come standard on all TP9 variants. The PNP model is a TP9SF Elite-S, which also comes with Warren Tactical sights and match grade barrel and comes in a blued finish with the PNP coat of arms and the words “PNP Property” emblazoned on the left side of the slide. Interestingly enough, the handguns come with a holster, an amenity that would make these pistols even more appealing to PNP officials tasked with arms procurement. During testing, a TP9SF Elite-S had 20,000 rounds fired through it over the span of 2 days between March 19-21, 2018. With the results being satisfactory for the Philippine National Police, and the price per unit of each handgun evaluated as being worthwhile, an order of 10,000 TP9SF Elite-S handguns was officiated and delivered.
TP9 handguns have seen success with civilian shooters and law enforcement markets, both domestically in Turkey and internationally, with Turkey adopting 45,000 units of the TP9SF Elite-S for their own police force and the TP9SF making its way to the finals with the Danish Army handgun trials with positive results. With the Philippine National Police pushing to rapidly expand in many areas such as development and training, manpower, doctrine, and acquisition of modern equipment, it is unsurprising that they chose the TP9SF Elite-S to supplement their additional order of IWI and Glock handguns. As the modernization process of the PNP continues to move forward, it will be interesting to see the role Canik handguns will play.