THE Cagayan de Oro City Council wants to bring back policemen in the front lines of the drug war out of fear the gains of the past year will go to waste.
City Councilor Romeo Calizo, chairman of the committee on police, fire, and public safety, said from an average of three to four arrests a day, there has been zero drug-related arrests since President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police in the sidelines and for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to prosecute the drug war.
“But since last week until now, we have zero accomplishment in so far as arresting persons in the illegal drugs campaign, that is alarming," Calizo said, in his special report during the weekly City Council session last Wednesday, October 18.
"Dili kaya ang PDEA ang magpatuman aning Dangerous Drugs Act, ang police ang backbone sa atong operations (PDEA cannot implement the Dangerous Drugs Act. The police are the backbone of our operations)," he said.
Calizo said because of the changes, the Cadac will also be forced to re-study and amend its plans and programs, this time, without the help of the police.
Calizo said the city's anti-illegal drugs program will weaken as barangay officials "will be useless in the absence of the police."
"The barangay officials in implementing operations, will be useless in the absence of the police, they have no muscle. It's also a fact that
PDEA personnel is only after the high-value targets, not really on the aspect of law enforcement, and especially not on drug users and small-time dealers," he said.
"Our profiling and at the efforts of our community rehab centers, will also be affected. Those who deal with illegal drugs will now be worry-free because no police will act against them. Not to mention, deputizing our barangay tanods (village watchmen), it's very much irrelevant," he added.
Calizo pointed out that the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) has an excellent track record of keeping fatalities to a minimum when conducting operations, proving that the local police have been observing maximum tolerance and respecting human rights in their operations.
Still, Calizo is warning government employees and the public that the non-participation of police, "should not encourage them to go back to illegal drugs," adding that the City Government will remain relentless and dedicated in continuing its anti-illegal drugs campaign.
Calizo, along with the committee of health and sanitation, and the Liga ng mga Barangay is set to convene to plan their next move.
"We will draft a resolution requesting the Office of the President that in the meantime while there's no alternative force or agency or organization that would take their role, because we know for a fact that their participation is very much important, we request the President to bring back the inclusion of police in our anti-illegal drugs campaign," Calizo said.
Duterte's order to sideline the police in drugs operations came amid criticism over the increasing number of fatalities in his war on drugs.
After his pronouncement, Cocpo's City Drug Enforcement Unit was disbanded with the drug enforcement teams of the different police stations taking other roles such as gathering intelligence.