THE number of drug dealers arrested alive by agents of the Philippine National Police after yielding peacefully to authorities since last July 1 rose to 22,397 yesterday with more arrests expected to worsen overcrowding in jails in Metro Manila and the rest of the country.
A PNP report said that over 22,000 arrests were made in 23,472 operations carried out by the police in line with Oplan: Double Barrel ordered by Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa. During the period, 1,375 armed drug traffickers were killed in gunbattles with the police.
PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Dionardo B. Carlos said the PNP Project: Tokhang during the period also saw the police visiting over 1.6 million homes and causing the surrender of 732,115 confessed drug personalities composed of 52,812 drug dealers and 679,303 users.
The growing number of arrests is expected to make overcrowded jails burst at the seams. Records showed that there are a total of 1,167 PNP custodial facilities nationwide and 85 of them are congested. In Metro Manila alone, 14 of the 70 PNP custodial facilities are congested while 16 out of the 154 police prisons in Region 3 in Central Luzon are overcrowded. In Region 4-A in Calabarzon, 33 out of the 142 NP custodial facilities are also filled beyond capacity.
Carlos said police have also recorded 2,066 incidents of murder and homicide during the period which left 2,250 persons dead, many of them found dead with cardboards bearing the words “Don’t imitate, I’m a pusher” left on their bodies or shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen.
Both President Duterte and Gen. de la Rosa said many of these so-called ‘Deaths Under Inquiry’ are believed to have been perpetrated by hitmen sent by drug syndicates to permanently silence their members who had yielded to the police in the aftermath of the Oplan: Tokhang and prevent the victims from testifying against them.
As of yesterday, a total of 1,745 cases of DUIs are still being investigated by the police. Of the number, 321 or 15.54 percent of the total have been forwarded to the court by the police for filing of criminal charges against the suspects.
Another 203 cases have been solved with the identification or arrest of suspects while 321 cases have been declared as “cleared.”
Carlos said the war on drugs which began since President Duterte took his oath of office has also led in the killing of 13 policemen and three members of the Armed Forces and injuries to 36 PNP members and eight soldiers. The security troops were killed or wounded while trying to arrest armed drug dealers in the metropolis and the provinces.
Gen. de la Rosa earlier said that policemen conducting Oplan: Tokhang are under strict orders to be courteous and fully observe human rights when dealing with the public including known drug offenders.
He also thanked President Duterte for giving them an extended time to crush illegal drug activities and at the same time called on his commanders to ensure that their men will observe proper decorum and follow the Police Operational Procedures in the conduct of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Campaign Plan called Project: Double Barrel.
Project: Double Barrel is a two-pronged approach to curbing drugs Project: Tokhang and Project HVT or High-Value Target. Project: Tokhang (knock and persuade) is the lower barrel approach of the PNP being conducted in all drug-affected barangays nationwide through the coordination of local government units and other stakeholders and law enforcement agencies.
It has been described as a practical and realistic means of accelerating the drive against illegal drugs in affected barangays and involves the conduct of house-to-house visitations to persuade suspected illegal drug personalities to stop their illegal drug activities.
On the other hand, Project HVT is a massive and reinvigorated conduct of anti-illegal drug operations targeting illegal drug personalities and drug syndicates in the national, regional, district, provincial and city levels.