THE Philippine National Police leadership headed by Director General Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa has promised a relentless ‘summer offensive’ against drugs in the country with police drug enforcement units focusing their effort in hitting the so-called ‘high-value’ targets including maintainers of secret shabu laboratories and storage facilities and drug lords and their ilk including protectors in the government.
Gen. Dela Rosa said he wants more ‘intelligence-driven’ operations aimed at identifying the main sources of multi-kilos of high-grade shabu confiscated from Chinese Mainlanders and their Filipino contacts so far this year particularly in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon region, Bicol region, Central Visayas and several parts of Mindanao. Also being targeted are rogues in government service who are directly or indirectly involved in illicit drug trade or are acting as ‘protectors’ of drug syndicates.
Last April 11 alone, authorities seized an estimated P50 million worth of shabu which were discovered inside a vehicle abandoned by its owner at the Matnog Port in Sorsogon. Officials said that an initial check with the Land Transportation Office showed that the registered owner of the Toyota Revo which yielded some 10 kilograms of shabu is one Ramil Luna Mercado of Malabon City.
Investigators are checking if the name and address listed in the vehicle’s certificate of registration and official receipt are genuine. The wagon containing the drugs was believed to have been abandoned by drug traffickers after they sensed the presence of officers busy searching for drugs, weapons and other contraband in the Matnog port.
Gen. Dela Rosa has underscored the need to sustain the government’s momentum on the campaign against illegal drug trafficking and abuse which temporarily went to a halt for a month until President Duterte ordered its resumption last March 31.
A noted hike in the country’s drug problem during the more than a month that police suspended its anti-narcotics operations particularly in areas already ‘cleared’ of drugs prompted President Duterte to reconsider his decision on the matter.
The PNP said that until very recently, they continue to receive reports of the resurgence of drug activities even in some areas that had been previously “cleared.” “It only goes to show that we cannot afford to lower our guard when confronting a vicious enemy. There must be continuity of effort if the desire is to completely eradicate the problem,” Gen. Dela Rosa said when he announced the activation of the PNP Drug Enforcement Group headed by Senior Superintendent Graciano “MJ” J. Mijares.
Dela Rosa stressed that the organization must sustain the momentum of the initial success that have been posted against the drug problem over the entire 2nd half of 2016 and strive to take more drugs off the streets.
At the start of the Duterte administration in July 1 last year, officials said that nearly 30 percent of the country’s 42,029 barangays are considered ‘drug-affected’ with the drug menace particularly in majority of barangays in the Metro Manila, Calabarzon region and Central Visayas.
Prior to the Duterte government, the National Capital Region Police Office said nearly 93 percent of the total 1,706 barangays in the metropolis are drug-afflicted. This prompted calls for more active citizens’ participation in the crackdown against narcotics and most importantly, the need for all Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils or BADACs to take very active role in the anti-narcotics war.
PDEA records showed that in 2015, there are 11,310 ‘drug-affected’ barangays in the country out of the 42,029 total or 26.91 percent. ‘Unaffected’ are 30,719 or 73.09 percent of the total barangays.
There is no official report on how the situation has changed during the first eight months of the Duterte administration although Gen. Dela Rosa has ordered a revitalized anti-drug campaign thru PNP Oplan: Double Barrel Reloaded.
Gen. Dela Rosa activated the PNP-DEG and announced the resumption of the PNP’s anti-illegal drug operations in support to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency after a brief suspension since January in the aftermath of the abduction and murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo by a group of rogue officers led by Superintendent Raphael Dumlao and Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta. Isabel.
“The war on drugs is on, and this time it is going to be more extensive, aggressive and well-coordinated, with built-in systems that guarantee full accountability and instill internal discipline among all personnel,” he said.
The PNP chief also reiterated his “3-strike policy” which means an official of a particular unit will be relieved for command responsibility if three of his men are found involved in criminal activities specifically drugs, robbery-holdup and extortion.
The same principle will apply on commanders who will fail to fully act on so-called ‘Deaths Under Investigation’ in his jurisdiction.