AS THE government's focus has shifted to cleansing the ranks of the Philippine National Police (PNP) of rogue police personnel, Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday has decided to suspend the Senate's hearings on "tokhang for ransom" incidents involving scalawags in uniform.

Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, held a hearing on the matter last week.

The Senate, said Lacson, should wait and see how the major changes in the anti-drug war will work out.

“In view of the massive restructuring of the war against drugs to focus on rogue cops as ordered by the President, it is my view that the Senate wait and see how this latest development plays out. Having said that, I am suspending the hearings on the 'tokhang for ransom’ issue," he said.

Amid the embarrassment President Rodrigo Duterte had suffered after several police officers were involved in the adduction and killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo, he ordered the dismantling of all anti-illegal drug units under the PNP nationwide.

This was followed by an order of PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa to stop all anti-illegal drug operations nationwide as the law enforcement agency shifts focus on "intensified internal cleansing."

Dela Rosa also ordered the creation of a counter-intelligence group whose job is to go after scalawags in the PNP.

Lacson said the latest developments have shown that the Senate hearing has achieved one of its purposes.

"After all, the President has taken a positive action on the matter and I feel that the committee on public order and dangerous drugs has partially achieved one of the purposes of its legislative inquiry. It is now time to attend to the pertinent legislative measures referred to the committee," Lacson noted.

The next hearing of the committee had initially been scheduled for Thursday, February 2.

At last week's Senate committee hearing, Lacson had closed-circuit television footage played showing rogue policemen planting drugs in an office that they eventually raided. Lacson said he had the video played to stress the need for internal cleansing in the PNP, the agency he headed from 1999 to 2001.

For now, Lacson said he will focus on pieces of legislation that may at least minimize abuses by police personnel in conducting anti-crime operations.

These include bills on the training of police personnel as well as the strengthening of the PNP's Internal Affairs Service.

Meanwhile, Lacson reiterated the need for systemic measures to prevent abuses by law enforcers, pointing out that crime may not be eradicated but could be minimized.

“I have said before that it is impossible to eradicate crime, but quite doable to greatly minimize it. As such, there should be systemic moves to deter, if not prevent, abuses by those tasked to stop criminality,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)