FOLLOWING the pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte that Cebu serves as a "hot spot" for illegal drugs, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña made a proposal.
He will assume full responsibility for the problem if they reinstate Senior Superintendent Benjamin Santos as Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) director and Chief Superintendent Patrocinio Comendador as Police Regional Office (PRO)-Central Visayas director.
Santos and Comendador, along with other police officers, were relieved when Duterte's crackdown on illegal drugs started last year.
"If they give me back my commanders, I will assume responsibility for the drug problem here in Cebu. Give them back to me. I will reorganize all the tanods and BINs (barangay intelligence network) and we will operate in parallel movement," he said.
Although he still supports the police, Osmeña said he has not been active in the war against illegal drugs.
Osmeña said the President should to China as the source of the illegal drugs.
The mayor said the current CCPO and PRO directors and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Central Visayas have performed better than he expected.
He said CCPO Director Joel Doria has done an "exceptional" job.
"But there's a problem. There is a surge. And this has to be strengthened. I think Doria is exceptional, I didn't have high expectations of him. PDEA is doing well," he said.
Meanwhile, Councilor Dave Tumulak said Duterte's statement is an affirmation that law enforcers like the police and the PDEA are doing their job.
"Our police and our local government units should not be demoralized by what the President said because it means that our campaign against illegal drugs is effective," he said.
Tumulak, who is also the deputy mayor for police matters, said Central Visayas Region has the highest number of police operations against illegal drugs. It also recorded the highest number of arrested drug personalities.
He believes that Cebu is a transshipment point of illegal drugs since it has several ports.
Tumulak said authorities should tighten security in all ports, including small ones where small vessels and roll-on and roll-off vessels dock.
In a related development, PRO-Central Visayas Director Noli Taliño agreed with Duterte's assessment that Cebu is a drug “hot spot.”
"The big-time drug lords all originated in Central Visayas then they branched out,” he said in Tagalog.
PDEA-Central Visayas Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz echoed Taliño's statement.
"The President has access to more information than us. We concur with the President that there is a drug problem in Cebu, so we take his declaration as a guide on how we can more effectively fulfill our mandate as the lead agency in the campaign against illegal drugs,” he said.
Ruiz said PDEA is accepting applications for those who want to be anti-narcotics agents.
Taliño said they are also monitoring police officers and village officials who are reportedly involved in the illegal drug trade. (With KAL)
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on July 14, 2017.
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