CEBU

Briones: Shaken resolve

ON THE GO

FROM the beginning, I knew this current administration’s war against illegal drugs would be bloody.

I anticipated human rights activists to get into a hizzy fit when bodies started to pile. They did and have continued to do so. And I don’t mind.

We need them to remind us that persons charged with waging this battle to rid our society of this scourge are not infallible. Nor are they entirely innocent.

Early on, President Rodrigo Duterte admitted the existence of “ninja cops,” law enforcement agents involved in stealing and selling illegal drugs during raids. He vowed to flush them out from their holes and make examples of them. And rightly so.

No Filipino with an iota of intelligence would believe that all our men and women in blue are clean. In fact, many cynics out there have always believed that this anti-drug campaign will come to naught because the very persons behind it are themselves involved in the illegal drug trade.

Of course, for every “bad cop” there are many who wake up each day and go about their duties to protect and serve the community.

I’d like to believe that the latter is the case because I’d like to see myself as an idealist. Or at least someone who has done and is doing the right thing by getting behind the government’s anti-drug crusade.

My resolve, though, has been shaken recently after news broke out about the former subordinates of Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde, who were accused of carting away 160 kilos of shabu as well as cash and vehicles from a suspected drug trafficker during a raid in Pampanga in November 2013.

Granted the alleged incident happened before Duterte was elected President, it still doesn’t look good for Albayalde, then provincial police director of Pampanga, who was relieved in March 2014 to pave the way for an internal investigation.

I expected Duterte to pounce on the issue, to hurl invective, to condemn Police Major Rodney Baloyo who led the operation and to sack Albayalde for being dragged into this controversy.

But no.

Not even when the former chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said Albayalde intervened so that his men would not be dismissed.

Not even when Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino said Albayalde had asked him to stop the dismissal of his men.

Instead, Malacañang announced that the President was on the lookout for an “honest and competent” high-ranking police official to succeed Albayalde, who is set to retire next month. Whatever that means.

Strangely enough, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo has refused to speculate.


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