SENIOR Superintendent Jack Wanky, officer-in-charge of Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), said Wednesday the police will still play a role in the anti-illegal drug operations even if they were ordered to dissolve their anti-drug units.

He said they have yet to receive the implementing guidelines on how to go about the directive of the national headquarters to suspend their anti-drug operations.

"We’re not slowing down," he said, adding that they will still take part in the anti-drug operations by giving information to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which is now at the forefront in going after drug personalities and groups, along with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

He said they will coordinate with the two agencies for sharing of intelligence reports and if necessary, provide manpower and resources.

Wanky also said their intelligence monitoring on drug suspects and groups will continue and their reports will be passed on to the PDEA and NBI.

He stressed that their law enforcement function is still “inherent,” which means they will still take action if they came upon drug personalities, he added.

Chief Superintendent Renato Gumban, director of Police Regional Office-NIR, said that service of warrants and raids should be led by PDEA although the police could augment their personnel during operations.

He also said that special operations groups will be established to solely focus on solving crimes.

"Focus on high-value target"

The NBI and the PDEA will focus their anti-drug operations on neutralizing “high-value targets.”

NBI-Bacolod head Renato Garbo III met Wednesday morning with PDEA-18 Director Roselyn Borja to coordinate their efforts in intelligence gathering and operations on possible targets in Negros Occidental.

Garbo, who also met with Wanky the other day, said their anti-drug operations could be joint or separate, adding they will focus more on “high-value target” suspects rather than the small-time and street level drug personalities.

While Garbo admitted that they are undermanned, he said they are up to the task.

“This is a big responsibility, but we will work double time,” he assured the public, adding that their agency handles all cases, like murder, homicide, estafa and cybercrimes.

He added that he requested their central office to send additional manpower to NBI-Bacolod.

Welcome development

Romeo Baldevarona, head of Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Negros Occidental, said the suspension of police’s operations on illegal drugs is a welcome development.

He said it’s a good decision by President Rodrigo Duterte as he noted the rising number of cases in extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the country.

For Negros Occidental, the CHR noted 14 cases of EJKs since the start of Duterte administration from June 2016 to January this year.

Baldevarona said there was no game plan in the “vigorous” campaign of the administration against illegal drugs, and it was not anticipated by the President how massive the drug problem is.

“If I were to say, there’s no game plan, no framework. But the efforts of the administration is not yet too late,” he said, adding that he is hoping that the killings will be avoided in the drug operations.