'Clean' PNP critical in new war vs illegal drugs | Inquirer Opinion
Sharp Edges

‘Clean’ PNP critical in new war vs illegal drugs

/ 09:33 AM January 10, 2023

While the economy returns to normalcy, “revenge illegal drug trade” is again flourishing. In March last year or three months before former President Duterte stepped down, NBI intercepted three vans at a police checkpoint in Barangay Comon, Infanta, Quezon carrying P11-B worth of shabu contained in 1,589 tea bags. Ten suspects were arrested, all residents of Tanay, Rizal in what NBI called the biggest drug haul in history.

In October, or just three months under the new BBM administration, another 990 kilos of shabu worth P6.7B were seized in a buy-bust operation in Tondo Manila. In follow-up operations, ten people were arrested including a police officer from PDEG,
M/Sgt Rodolfo Mayo, caught in a hot pursuit operation at Quezon bridge, Quiapo with two kilos of shabu worth P13.6M, a gun and SUV. Probers say Mayo has a lending business he uses for drug dealings.

A few days after, two cops involved in the earlier Tondo bust, were recorded on CCTV pilfering 42 kilos of shabu worth P285.6M. New PDEA chief Brig Gen. Narciso Domingo warned the said officers to surrender the drug haul or be hunted. An internal probe says more than 10 PDEG officers may have been involved in this suspected drug recycling.

Around December also last year, PDEA Southern Office chief Enrique Lucero and agents Anthony Alabastro and Jaireh Laguno and driver Mark Walo were arrested by PNP-NCRPO for selling P9.3M worth of shabu and illegal drugs inside their headquarters. Taguig LGU called this “a betrayal of the highest order” since the arrest happened in the very building the city gave to PDEA for use in anti-drug operations. They temporarily cut off ties with PDEA pending the outcome of the investigation.

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The number of cops involved in the illegal drug trade are coming back with vengeance. DILG secretary Benhur Abalos says 300 PNP ranking officials may have been compromised. “It is hard to fight a war where your ally shoots you in the back. We need to cleanse our ranks. The people will trust us even more if we are honorable”.

During Duterte’s time, “ninja cops” mysteriously disappeared, and quite a number were killed or retired from service. But under the Marcos administration is a more humane and new methodology-courtesy resignations by January 31 by all ranking PNP officers, which includes eight lieutenant generals, 21 major generals, 114 brigadier generals and 812 police colonels in the active police force. A move intended to weed out high-ranking cops that have alleged ties to criminal drug syndicates.

PNP Director General Rodolfo Azurin Jr admitted “public pressure” on the entire police organization. He says, “We are on trial and officers who refuse to tender their courtesy resignations should think and prioritize the organization’s interest over their individual and their families’ interests”.

This is not the first time PNP underwent a colossal revamp. Former President Fidel V. Ramos ordered all officers over 56 years old or with more than 30 years of service to resign to allow junior officers to move up the ranks. The PNP chief then and nine other senior officers resigned as a result.

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President Bongbong Marcos Jr. echoed the Abalos’ call for courtesy resignation as the government’s way of cleansing the ranks and making sure that PNP officials that “ang matitira sa atin ay maasaahan natin at nagtratrabaho para sa gobyerno at hindi para sa ibang sindikato.” (“remaining officers can be depended on working for government and not for drug syndicates”).

As of this writing, nearly 600 police generals and colonels have so far tendered their courtesy resignations. They expect to receive at least 456 more resignations from PNP senior officials.

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After January 31, a 5-man vetting team led by Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who once headed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and deputy chief for operations of the PNP, will review the courtesy resignations. Twenty-two names were submitted to Malacañang for inclusion in the team.

“The reputation of the PNP is at stake. Personal interest should be subverted and place the interest of the organization, that’s priority. We must remember that these PNP generals, especially the young colonels will take the helm of leadership. There is a need to ensure they are competent with a strong sense of integrity. That’s the only way the PNP can gain trust and confidence of the public”, Magalong insisted.

From my view, this “real internal cleansing” inside the PNP has reached its final Rubicon. There is no turning back. But the way it is going, the DILG is proving to be a formidable check and balance against the drug problem. We must remember that each of our 42,047 barangays, urban or rural, have their own anti-drug abuse council (ADAC) that can pinpoint illegal drug trade and their protectors. No wonder that in just five months of SILG Abalos and BBM, there were already 21,290 drug stings conducted and over 26,752 suspects arrested alive. That is a record-breaking DAILY output of 141 drug stings and 178 suspects arrested. And as expected, the “ninja cops” and their protectors inside government and the PNP are being unmasked.

Of course, there will be some sectors in the PNP crying demoralization, lack of due process or constitutional rights. Some legislators may even join these demoralized few in criticizing this new idea against the publicly hated drug problem. Some may even use media to swing public opinion and stop this internal cleansing.

But certainly, the public knows all of that. Up to this point, it cannot be helped that they continue to distrust the police, knowing that their “corrupt” and compromised officers are still involved in the illegal drug show. This internal cleansing is the first step and should be followed by serious and deliberate actions. If some PNP officers refuse to file their courtesy resignations, then they can only blame themselves. They cannot stop the public, much less their kabarangays and friends, of thinking in the opposite direction.

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TAGS: column, Illegal drugs, PNP, Police, Sharp Edges

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