PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald Dela Rosa ordered all police units Monday to stop all anti-illegal drugs operations nationwide and to focus on "internal cleansing."

Dela Rosa's decision came after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the dismantling of all PNP anti-illegal drugs unit after several cops were involved in the kidnap-slay of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo.

"Wala na kaming war on drugs. Meron kami ngayong war on scalawags. Linisin namin ang aming hanay ngayon and after that, maybe kapag na-cleanse na namin, babalik na naman kami sa aming war on drugs," said Dela Rosa.

Dela Rosa said they cannot initiate illegal drug operations as they will only be in support of the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which will temporarily take over the administration's war on drugs.

"[But] if a crime is happening in your presence, nakita mo nagbebenta ng drugs sa harap mo, pulis ka, kailangan aksyunan mo yan. Ibig sabihin yung mga reactive operations, nakita mo nagbebetahan, alangang hindi mo hulihin eh nasa harapan mo," he said.

Creation of Special Task Group

Dela Rosa said as part of their intensified internal cleansing, he created a counter-intelligence group focused on running after police scalawags.

He said he will be “ruthless and unforgiving” against the policemen who destroy the image of the PNP.

Dela Rosa said he ordered the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM), Internal Affairs Service, and Directorate for Personnel and Records Management (DPRM) to come up with a list of erring cops, particularly those dismissed from service due to involvement in illegal activities but were eventually reinstated after appealing the decision.

He said the counter-intelligence group will be composed of at least 100 policemen to be headed by a senior superintendent. Dela Rosa said they are still in the process of choosing the police officials who will be part of the group.

For his part, AIDG director Albert Ferro said he was hurt and disappointed but will abide by the President's decision.

"Siyempre 'yung mga nagsimula nito sila ay nalulungkot. Hindi naman konting tao lang ang winasak nila kundi isang buong institution… Pero tatalima kami, susundin naming lahat ng instructions," said Ferro.

Among AIDG's accomplishments, according to Ferro, were the recovery of 180 kilos of illegal drugs in Cagayan, and the discovery of floating illegal drug laboratory in Subic and those clandestine laboratories in Isabela and in Virac, Catanduanes.

Ferro also highlighted the arrest the self-confessed Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa in Abu Dhabi.

Dela Rosa said he is still identifying the units where the 315 personnel of the AIDG will be re-assigned. (SunStar Philippines)