PHILIPPINE National Police chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa yesterday announced the disbandment of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group and other police anti-narcotics units across the country in the aftermath of the abduction and murder of Korean Jee Ick-joo last October 18.
Dela Rosa made the move on orders of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Right now, there will be no more anti-drug operations for the police. I have dissolved the PNP-AIDG and all other Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Groups (AIDSOTGs) from the regional to the provincial down to the city, municipal and station level,” the country’s top cop said.
He said that officers and men of the PNP-AIDG headed by Senior Superintendent Albert Ignatius D. Ferro as well as the different AIDSOTGs will be returned to their mother units in the wake of the directive which came directly from an angry President Duterte.
De la Rosa admitted that there is a breakdown in police discipline as shown by the involvement of a group of PNP-AIDG operatives led by Superintendent Rafael Dumlao in the kidnapping and murder of Jee as well as charges aired against scores of some AIDSOTG personnel for ‘planting’ evidence and mulcting, foremost of which was the bogus drug raid exposed last week by Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ M. Lacson.
“Yes, we must admit it because crime is happening within our ranks,” he said when asked if there is really a breakdown in police discipline.
The PNP chief said he was somehow surprised when President Duterte ordered a stop to all police anti-narcotics operations. The President directed the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency headed by Director General Isidro S. Lapeña to assume all anti-narcotics operations.
“That’s the decision of the President but this will be temporary in nature. What we will do now is to concentrate on our anti-criminality campaign and massive internal cleansing. Kung anong gigil namin sa war versus drugs, yan ang gagawin namin sa war versus rogues,” he said.
De la Rosa said he is not saying that all anti-narcotics policemen are corrupt but admitted that the presence of officers like Supt. Dumlao and Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Sta. Isabel are giving the organization a black-eye.
‘’Majority of our anti-narcotics men are doing a fine job, dozens of them have sacrificed their lives, some have been maimed in the performance of duty but we need drastic action to stop irregularities in the conduct of the war on drugs. We need to dissolve all our anti-narcotics units.
He also appealed to all officers and men of the 170,000-strong police force to remain true to their sworn duty to “serve and protect” and help go after rogues in uniform.
“Makonsensiya naman kayo. You can just imagine our war on drugs has been victorious at this point in time but because of what has happened, the President stripped us of our power to enforce the country’s anti-drug law,” he said.
The PNP is authorized to enforce Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Anti-Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 although the PDEA is the lead agency in the enforcement of the same law. Since July 1 last year up to yesterday, the PNP’s massive anti-drug campaign has already led to the killing of 2,551 armed drug suspects in gunbattles with undercover officers and the arrest of 52,962 others.
The vaunted Oplan: Tokhang has already seen the police visiting more than 7 million houses and prompting the surrender of nearly 1.180 million confessed drug personalities, around 80,000 of them known drug dealers. PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Dionardo B. Carlos said that during the period, 35 policemen and 3 soldiers have been killed while fighting armed and defiant drug traffickers. A total of 87 policemen and 8 Armed Forces personnel were wounded in encounters with armed suspects during the period.
Project Double Barrel and Oplan:
The PNP chief said that with the President’s directive, the PNP Project: Double Barrel including the PNP Oplan: Tokhang will stop. “We have it coming. Nasa amin na yun and we have some misgivings. Kung nacontrol lang sana lahat. Ang sabi nga ng Presidente, maganda sana ang take-off namin pero nangyari na nga ang hindi dapat mangyari,” he said.
He however, said that the order would be temporary in nature since PDEA alone cannot do the job. “Babalik din kami as soon as we have finished our war versus rogues in uniform. Pero at the meantime, although continuing ang anti-crime operations naming, other operations like service of search warrants for violation of the anti-drug law and buy-bust operations will stop,” he said.
Dela Rosa however explained that police can still make an anti-drug arrest only if the crime is happening right in his presence.
He lamented that the temporary halt will benefit drug lords and their ilk. “To the drug lords, you have your day, you may have achieved your victory but this is only momentary. There’s always time for reckoning.”
His main fear: Baka bumalik na naman na parang candy lang ang bentahan ng shabu sa kalsada.”