THE Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reaffirmed on Sunday their commitment to the government’s war against illegal drugs.
PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa ensured on Friday that all police stations have direct lines to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) so they can immediately report incidents involving illegal drugs.
In a memorandum signed on October 10, President Rodrigo Duterte instructed the PNP to let the PDEA handle all the operations concerning the drug menace, as provided by Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act 9165).
Dela Rosa in accordance to the order dissolved the PNP's drug enforcement units in the police stations but noted that the police can still make arrest particularly if illegal drugs transactions are happening in front of them.
"We will call the PDEA to report that there is illegal drugs transaction here. We cannot conduct operations but when a crime is being committed before your presence you have to act on it, arrest them and endorse it to PDEA," he said.
Dela Rosa said they will focus on internal cleansing and their anti-criminality campaign.
He said as their drug enforcement group will have a lesser work load, they will order them to help the Criminal Intelligence Task Force to conduct operations against police scallawags.
Dela Rosa said even before they were slashed out from the government's war on drugs, the PNP’s communication with the PDEA is always available.
He urged the public and the local government officials to help the PDEA and immediately report to them illegal drugs transactions considering that they only have at least 1,000 personnel.
"You can imagine the vacuum that we will be leaving behind. Right now we have 185,000 policemen dedicated in the war on drugs and then suddenly we'll back-off. The 1,700 personnel of PDEA including the administrative personnel will be left behind. There will really be a huge vacuum,” he said.
Dela Rosa said based on records, there are at least 4,000 erring policemen.
"Binabasehan namin 'yung mga nasa listahan ng mga pulis na suspected to be involved in anomalies at saka 'yung mga facing administrative charges, mga nakasuhan at 'yung mga na-convict na gumawa ng kalokohan (We got the figures from a list of cops who are suspected to be involved in anomalies and those who are facing administrative charges, those who were sued, and convicted)," he said.
AFP public affairs office chief. Col. Edgard Arevalo in a statement said: “the AFP has always been supporting the PDEA, PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation in any illegal drugs operations un nless we are otherwise requested to lead especially in conflict-affected areas.”
In February, AFP and PDEA signed a memorandum of agreement in a bid to strengthen anti-narcotics operations, especially in conflict-affected areas, particularly where conditions for insurgency, secessionism, and terrorism are prevalent.
The military also expanded the Joint Counterintelligence Task Force (JCTF) NOAH, an ad hoc unit created and mandated by the AFP to conduct drugs-related counterintelligence operations.
NOAH assists law enforcement agencies in the identification, investigation, and neutralization of persons in the use, sale, manufacture, and distribution of illegal drugs.
The military has also formed regional task groups under its unified commands to coordinate direct action, intelligence, legal support, and community relations to PDEA, as force employer, and its regional offices nationwide.
From July 2016 to September 2017, these task groups have conducted a total 6,891 operations which resulted in the killing of 146 drug suspects and arrest of 1,241.
Joint raids of drug laboratories also yielded a total of PHP1.9-billion shabu manufacturing equipment which have greatly hampered the production of methamphetamine in the country while more than 52 kilos of shabu were also confiscated in the operations.
Internal security operations conducted against terror groups also resulted in the neutralization of several drug suspects in Mindanao.
“I commend our soldiers for their professional and efficient intelligence and manpower support afforded to PDEA and the PNP in their anti-illegal drugs operations. Rest assured that despite our focus on our mandate to address internal and external threats to the country, we will not lose sight on the drugs scourge and will actively support PDEA in its endeavors,” AFP Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año said.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino assured Thursday that the government's drug war will be less bloody and that members of other law enforcement agencies will still be included in operations considering their limited manpower. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo/PNA/)