THE police is ready to once again take the lead in President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war, a police regional official said.
Superintendent Lemuel Gonda, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao, said the police is just waiting for the implementing order and guidelines from national headquarters since the anti-drug program has long been in place.
Gonda insists that the lead role in the conduct of anti-drug operations must be given back to the police since the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is not capable because of lack of manpower.
"Angayan nga ibalik kay dili man makaya sa PDEA kay pila ra man sila unya kasagara krimen gakahitabo involved ang droga (The drug war should be given back to the police because PDEA personnel are only few and most crimes recorded were related to drugs)," Gonda said.
But Gonda said launching collaborative efforts with other law enforcement agencies as well as with communities still is key.
Gonda assured that the policemen in the region will not be taking short cuts and will follow proper police procedure during drug operations.
The PRO-Northern Mindanao is conducting a weekly Police Information Continuing Education (PICE) where policemen are being taught and refreshed with the police protocol and police operational procedures.
The refreshment program aims to reorient the police with the guidelines before and after operations to ensure that human rights and dignity are not breached.
Gonda also maintained that the war on drugs in the region has not been as deadly as in other regions saying allegations of extra judicial killings were just that, allegations.
"klaro man sa procedure nga kung mosukol ang suspek modepensa ang police ug kanang EJK wala mana na-prove more on hearsay lang na (It's clear in the procedure that once the suspect fights back, the police must defend himself. And that EJK issue is not yet proven)," Gonda added.
Gonda said the police has also not stopped monitoring and investigating ‘drug personalities’ in the region.
For his part, PDEA-Northern Mindanao agent Ben Calibre said the plan to bring back the police at the forefront in the drug war is a welcome development.
Calibre said the PDEA needs more hands from the police and other law enforcement agencies to get rid of the demand and supply of illegal drugs.
"Welcome ug ikalipay namo kung ibalik ang PNP sa war on drugs (We welcome and we are happy if the police is back in the fight against illegal drugs)," Calibre said.