AN OFFICIAL of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) Tuesday, January 31, confirmed receipt of the order suspending all drug related operations and disbanding all anti-illegal drugs units of the Philippine National Police (PNP) as they shift its focus on rooting out scalawags from within its ranks.
Cocpo spokesperson Chief Inspector Mardy Hortillosa II said the order took effect Tuesday after a staff conference at Maharlika Headquarters following the directive from PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa.
Dela Rosa announced on Monday the marching order of President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the war on drugs and cleanse the police ranks following the kidnap-slay of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo involving policemen.
Hortillosa said the Dela Rosa’s order covers the halting of implementation of search warrants, drug bust, Oplan Tokhang (toktok-hangyo) and "Taphang" (Tapok-hangyo).
He added Dela Rosa’s order, however, does not cover the implementation of the arrest warrants.
"Suspended ang drug operations until such time nga naay directive nga ibalik. Ang atong gibasihan is ang pronouncement ni PNP chief sa Crame (Drug operations are suspended until such time that there will be a directive to bring it back. We are basing on the pronouncement of the PNP chief in Crame)," Hortillosa said.
Hortillosa clarified that the order will not stop Barangay Anti-drug Abuse Council (Badac) from continuing to list down "drug personalities" and monitor their activities, saying that those involved will have their names recorded.
The police will also continue the anti-drug programs like distribution of leaflets, forums, symposia and other policy community relations activities to warn the public about the illegal drug menace.
As directed, Hortillosa said, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will now take center stage in the drug war.
Policemen, Hortillosa added, can only arrest drug suspects if the drugs and drug paraphernalia are in plain view. The suspects will then be turned over to PDEA.
The Cocpo spokesperson said the police will push through with the anti-criminality operation using the concept of "Lambat-Sibat" which was previously implemented by the PNP before Dela Rosa assumed his post.
The latest police anti-drug operation was the arrest of Vecinta Nicor, who allegedly delivered nearly P4,000 worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu" inside the Misamis Oriental Provincial Jail last Sunday, January 29.
According to the cumulative report from the Police Regional Office-Northern Mindanao, around 39 drug personalities in the region were killed in police operations from July 1, 2016 to January 30, 2017.
The data showed the Northern Mindanao police arrested 1,532 drug personalities and recorded over 82,000 drug dependents that turned themselves in to the police through the Oplan Tokhang.
The data also showed that Cocpo has the most number of arrested drug personalities at 720, aside from the "surrender" of some 5,500 drug dependents.
He said they have begun monitoring and validating Cocpo personnel suspected of involvement in all kinds of illegal activities.
"Naa tay gi-monitor ug gi-validate karon kay ang uban chismis pa man. Kinahanglan naay ebidensya (We are still monitoring and validating now since it's still hearsay. There has to be evidence,),"Hortillosa said.
Meanwhile, Dela Rosa appointed on Tuesday Senior Superintendent Jose Chiquito Malayo as head of the Counter-Intelligence Task Force (CITF), a newly-created group in the PNP tasked to go after police scalawags.
Malayo was Zamboanga City police director in 2013 and was held hostage by members of the Moro National Liberation Front while trying to negotiate with the group during the siege of Zamboanga City in September 2013.
Dela Rosa ordered the creation of the CITF as part of the "internal cleansing" of the PNP.
Dela Rosa said he ordered Malayo to choose his people who will be working with him at the CITF. He said he still has to approve Malayo’s list.
He said the CITF will be composed of at least 100 police officers with unblemished records.
CITF will take over the office of the PNP-Anti-Illegal Drugs Group in Camp Crame, after it was ordered dissolved by Dela Rosa. (With a report from SunStar Philippines)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 01, 2017.