THE number of armed drug dealers killed in gunbattles with the police since July 1 rose to 1,197 yesterday with 18,451 others arrested as police stepped-up Project: Double Barrel on orders of Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa.
Officials said the total number of arrested drug personalities so far is an indication that police are not in the habit of killing drug offenders except when forced to defend themselves against armed suspects.
Since July 1, over a dozen policemen and soldiers have been shot dead by armed and defiant drug traffickers, the latest of them Police Officer 1 Romeo Mandapat, a 24-year old member of the Caloocan City Police Station who was shot dead by wanted drug dealer Jerson Maturan during an operation in Sampaloc Street, Barangay 178 last week.
PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Dionardo B. Carlos said as of 6 a.m. yesterday 19,106 operations had been conducted by the police across the country including the PNP Oplan: Tokhang which so far has resulted in the voluntary surrender of 717,487 confessed drug personalities composed of 53,294 shabu and marijuana dealers and 664,193 drug users.
The number of houses visited by the police under Oplan: Tokhang rose to 1,118,66 yesterday.
Carlos said that police have also recorded 1,971 incidents of “death under investigation” including victims whose bodies were found with a cardboard sign stating they were either a drug pusher or user. These cases have already reached 1,660 yesterday with police arresting 197 suspects and solving 311 of the cases of 15.78 percent of the total.
Carlos said police are still tracking down 114 suspects in those killings even as he clarified that DUIs are not automatically “extra-judicial killings nor vigilante/summary killings.”
Gen. de la Rosa last July 1 ordered the implementation of the PNP Project: Double Barrel in order to clear all drug-affected barangays across the country through no let-up operations against illegal drug personalities and organized drug syndicates.
Gen. de la Rosa said they intend to equally address illegal drug activities in the barangays and at the same time pursue the neutralization of drug personalities and organized drug rings.
The PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Campaign Plan called Project: Double Barrel is being conducted in a two-pronged approach, namely, 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.
The PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group headed by Senior Supt. Albert Ignatius D. Ferro has been tasked to focus on national and regional level traffickers and international drug traffickers while the Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Groups are concentrating on illegal drug trafficking across district/provincial boundaries.