"IT'S my expectation and wish that our authorities will follow the rule of law."
This was stressed by Councilor Renecito Novero on Friday, October 18, after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Police Lieutenant Colonel Jovie Espenido, the newly assigned deputy city director for operation of Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), to kill suspects in Bacolod.
"I welcome him and if that could prevent, deter or stop the intrusion of illegal drugs in Bacolod, then we most welcome him and we should give him the cooperation he needs because I believe that he cannot do it alone to solve the illegal drugs problem," said Novero, who is also a lawyer.
He said Espenido is also a religious man and he believes that his conscience will be guided accordingly.
"It's my expectation and wish that they will observe always the rule of law, that they will not be imperious, they will not be arbitrary, oppressive, and murderous, but well if the situation calls for self-defense, they know better their rules of engagement," he added.
Duterte earlier said that Bacolod is badly-hit by illegal drugs, the reason he placed Espenido in the city and told Espenido he was free to kill everybody.
Novero said that was a statement or an averment of fact which they have as an effective way to determine if Bacolod is really infested of illegal drugs.
"They have their intelligence network. Then maybe, we should consciously take it as it is and then undertake measures to address and solve it," he said.
In previous months, of 61 barangays, only five barangays in Bacolod have been declared as "drug cleared" by the Regional Oversight Committee and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Last September, the City Anti-Drug Abuse Council (Cadac) also submitted the list of the eight barangays to be declared "drug cleared."
"We only have five barangays declared as drug free and 56 are not 'drug free' and if we have 56 barangays that are not drug free, that is very alarming. I think there must be some good basis for the President to declare that we are badly hit by illegal drugs," Novero said.
Councilor Cindy Rojas also said it is also the time for BCPO to double its effort to neutralize the drug personalities in Bacolod City.
"We are hopeful that that there will be no bloody operations here because we are a very peaceful city. Our authorities should follow the rule of law," she said.
Meanwhile, Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, in a television interview, said: "I believe the President has Bacolod close to his heart, so he must have the best of intentions for Bacolod and we believe that the authorities know better when you talk about the real drug situation and the other areas of peace and order. We leave it to the best judgment of the President and we feel that he is, in fact, concerned about Bacolod."
For his part, Police Lieutenant Colonel Ariel Pico, spokesperson of BCPO, said it is the disappointment of the President that illegal drugs still exist in Bacolod.
"We have a big accomplishment in the campaign against illegal drugs in Western Visayas. It means illegal drugs continue to exist here and it shows that there's something wrong," he said.
He added that not all barangays in Bacolod are drug affected because five barangays were already declared "drug cleared," while eight other barangays are also scheduled for verification to be declared as drug cleared villages.
Pico noted that most of the drug affected barangays are in the areas of Police Stations 1, 2 and 3.
From October 1, the BCPO seized more than P3 million worth of illegal drugs in various areas of Bacolod.
"It's one of the priority programs of our President to address the illegal drugs problem in the country, but still it continues exist and this is also the priority of Espenido here," Pico said.
Pico said BCPO Director Colonel Henry Binas already ordered all the station chiefs to double their effort in the campaign against illegal drugs and crimes.