WHEN Director General Oscar Albayalde took from Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa the reins of the Philippine National Police (PNP), he vowed to focus first on the police organization by imposing strict discipline and internal cleansing. This was a departure from the conduct by his predecessor of the war against illegal drugs without first straightening the machinery that would primarily wage that war.
Albayalde, who was then with the National Capital Region Police Office, saw for himself how that war, called Oplan Tokhang, stumbled because of the excesses in the manner it was being waged. Albayalde obviously didn’t want to commit the same mistake and has thus been aggressive in the drive against erring officers, especially those linked to the illegal drugs trade.
The same move was what we have been pointing out during the campaign period when President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to eradicate the illegal drugs problem in six months if he wins the presidency. We noted that such a campaign can only be as good as the organization that will wage it. Dela Rosa, however, proceeded with the waging of the war without adequate preparation and with the apparent limitations in method.
We have seen up close the conduct of the cleansing process by the PNP under Albayalde with the recent killing of Senior Insp. Raymond Hortezuela by elements of the Counter-Intelligence Task Force and the Regional Intelligence Division of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7. Hortezuela had been identified as protector of alleged drug lord Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz.
Hortezuela’s family has questioned both the manner the police officer was killed and the claim linking him to the illegal drugs trade. The family’s demand for justice has prodded the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) 7 to look into Hortezuela’s death. PRO 7 Chief Debold Sinas welcomed this, saying they have nothing to hide.
Well and good, because while the internal cleansing that Albayalde launched is welcome, the police hierarchy needs also to be reminded to follow the rules in its conduct.
While we criticized the police for the manner in which they waged war against illegal drugs and the killing of thousands of suspects, we should also remind the police hierarchy to do the cleansing correctly.