Cleansing PNP, drug war should be ‘simultaneous’ – lawmakers
MANILA, Philippines – Two congressmen allied with President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippine National Police (PNP) can clean its ranks and at the same time lead the war on drugs.
Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro and Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali, House justice panel chairperson, said on Monday, January 30, that the mistakes of a few erring policemen should not affect the whole organization.
“Para sa akin kasi, ‘di naman exclusive ‘yun eh. You can do both. You don’t have to sacrifice one program just to be able to do the other kasi puwede naman ‘yung internal cleansing and at the same time, continue the war on drugs,” said Umali in a phone interview with Rappler.
(For me, the two aren’t exclusive. You can do both. You don’t have to sacrifice one program just to be able to do the other because you can do internal cleansing and at the same time, continue the war on drugs.)
Castro, Capiz 2nd District representative, added that the “beastly and uncivilized conduct of a few scalawags in the PNP does not speak for the entire organization.”
“That is why only the best and the unblemished should be involved in the war on drugs in the meantime while the cleaning is ongoing,” said Castro in a text message.
On Monday, PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa ordered all police units to stop their anti-illegal drug operations across the country while the PNP focuses on “internal cleansing.”
President Rodrigo Duterte made the same order to the police force following some officers’ involvement in the murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo inside Camp Crame in October 2016. (READ: Duterte orders 'cleansing' of PNP, extends drug war again)
Replacing people, strategies
The President has said that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is now the lead agency in the war on drugs.
According to Castro, the police’s non-participation in the drug war will give drug personalities the chance to regroup, thus leading the PNP to fight “refreshed and reinvigorated enemies” once they are once again ordered to fight the illegal drug problem.
Umali shared the same sentiments.
“‘Yan ang problem natin kasi – ‘pag may nagkakamali, gusto natin overhaul agad. ‘Di naman kailangan. Baka tune up lang (That’s the problem with us – when someone makes a mistake, we want an overhaul. We don’t need that. Maybe we just need a tune up). Put people there who have the trust and confidence of the President,” said Umali.
Opposition lawmaker Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr said Dela Rosa’s order “would be a grave admission of the failure of the war on drugs,” which has led to 7,000 drug-related deaths in legitimate police operations and apparent summary killings nationwide.
“The campaign [of the police] should continue. Only the strategies and tactics must be rethought to avoid scalawags in uniform from abusing their police power,” he added.
On the war on drugs’ image
Another administration ally, Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles said Dela Rosa made the right decision for the PNP to regain the public’s confidence.
“I think Gen. Dela Rosa knows that if he wants to move forward and with greater moral ascendancy, he has to cleanse the ranks of the PNP and remove all police scalawags,” said Nograles in a text message.
“The PNP campaign against corrupt and abusive cops will resonate well with our people because it will show everyone that government is sincere to serve. We must learn to trust our PNP officials again; otherwise, we will have no order in our streets,” he added.
Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin of the opposition bloc disagreed with Nograles, saying the Duterte administration’s war on drugs is a “flawed policy from the start.”
“It only proves that putting your house in order is the first priority together with instituting judicial reforms. It also shows that the war on drugs was waged by a police force bereft of moral authority and tainted with the blood of 7,000 people killed in a campaign that was going nowhere,” he said.
‘Tainted’ PDEA not enough to fight drug war?
All the lawmakers, except for Nograles, agreed that the PDEA is shorthanded in handling the drug war alone.
“Their manpower is not enough. The PDEA should complement the PNP in actual operation like [in] raids and arrest and on the matter of quality intelligence and identification of target places and persons,” said Castro.
Villarin also called PDEA a “tainted” agency, saying the country is in need of an inter-agency body that “would include judicial oversight when it comes to upholding due process and the rule of law.”
But Nograles said PDEA is prepared to fight illegal drugs on its own.
“The PDEA is equipped to continue the war against drugs. We made sure that PDEA has the funding it needs this year to be able to combat illegal drugs across the nation,” said the House appropriations panel chairperson.
“The police and our entire justice system will always be there to support the PDEA in its operations. We all belong to the same team,” he added. – Rappler.com