The right drug war | Inquirer Opinion

The right drug war

The most serious scandal facing the government today is the involvement of 49 police officers in pilfering what has been dubbed as the “biggest drug haul in the history of the Philippines.” While diehard supporters of former president Rodrigo Duterte cite the incident as proof of the correctness of the bloody war on drugs, on the contrary, it proves its very wrongness and the utter waste of lives during those violent years.

The scandal began when Philippine National Police’s Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) officers raided a lending office in Manila in October 2022. In the raid, anti-narcotics agents reported that they confiscated 990 kilograms of crystal meth (“shabu”) worth P6.7 billion. They also reported that in an ensuing pursuit made the next day, they arrested Master Sgt. Rodolfo Mayo Jr., owner of the lending company. Mayo turned out to be a multiawarded antidrug police officer of the DEG.

Subsequently, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) got hold of CCTV footages telling a sinister story. Based on the video, the PNP already had custody of Mayo even before the operation, contrary to the DEG report that Mayo was arrested only the next day during a hot pursuit. Cops were seen removing the handcuffs on Mayo in at least four instances before he entered the lending office on the day of the raid. Mayo was even listed as an arresting officer in a separate drug operation on the day of the raid even though he had already been caught in a buy-bust operation earlier.


From the video footages, investigators also discovered that DEG officers took bags of shabu before the 990 kg were inventoried. Of the pilfered shabu, 42 kg were subsequently surrendered by two cops who said that they took them to be given as a “reward” to their informant. It also appears that the 990 kg of shabu that were confiscated are now “unexplained and unaccounted for.”


As a result of the incident, two police generals are being investigated for their involvement in the incident, including DEG head Police Brig. Gen. Narciso Domingo who has been removed from his post. Both generals were seen going in and out of the scene of the raid in the CCTV footage. Other police officers involved include two colonels, three lieutenant colonels, one major, five lieutenants, and 12 sergeants.

Despite the creation of a police investigation task force, DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos has openly criticized the slow pace of the probe, and that he senses a “massive cover-up.” He has directed the National Police Commission to conduct a parallel investigation. After days of silence, meanwhile, PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. has come out in support of the two generals under investigation even before the probe could be completed. Azurin has also stated that Abalos is being fed with wrong information. Abalos countered that the video evidence is res ipsa loquitor (it speaks for itself).

There is obviously a word war going on between the PNP chief and the DILG Secretary. But sifting through the disclosed facts, the DILG Secretary must be commended and supported for the war he is waging to cleanse the police organization all the way to the top. Abalos is waging the right kind of drug war that should be waged.

The government must go after the enablers and conspirators of drug lords in the police ranks. The past administration’s drug campaign had largely been waged against mere drug users and small-time peddlers. Instead of making a major cleansing of the police force, the Duterte administration has fostered an amoral culture among cops who were enabled, encouraged, and even reportedly incentivized for illegal killings and unlawful arrests. With a police force stripped of conscience, its members became numbed to the worst of the worse crimes—extralegal killings. They internalized the outlook that drug users are the dregs of society who must be eliminated for the good of humanity. With a mindset desensitized of conscience, it is not far-fetched to imagine that in their minds, there’s negligible harm in pilfering several kilos of shabu for distribution to drug-crazed individuals who are beyond redemption anyway. These cops are worse than drug lords. They rob drug lords, for them to take over as drug lords.

The drug menace is back with a vengeance. In fact, with the personalities involved in this recent scandal, it’s clear that it merely hibernated. It never left.



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TAGS: drugs, ninja cops, scalawags

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