NEARLY 2.4 million houses of suspected drug personalities in Metro Manila and other parts of the country have been visited by agents of the Philippine National Police since the implementation of the Oplan: Tokhang ordered by Director General Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa last July 1, officials said yesterday.
The visits made on some 2,380,000 residences nationwide prompted the surrender of around 750,000 confessed drug personalities composed of about 55,000 persons who confessed to involvement in illegal drug trafficking and over 694,000 confessed users of shabu and marijuana, said PNP spokesman, Senior Superintendent Dionardo B. Carlos.
Carlos, citing reports submitted by the 18 Police Regional Offices in the country said over 31,700 anti-drug operations have been conducted by the police since July 1 leading to the neutralization of nearly 1,650 armed drug dealers during gunbattles with the police and the arrest of 29,685 others.
Over 30,000 drug personalities were also arrested during service of warrants of arrest, enforcement of search warrants for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013, conduct of checkpoints and police responses during the period, Carlos said.
The PNP spokesperson said that 13 policemen and three members of the Armed Forces have been killed while fighting it out with heavily-armed and defiant drug traffickers in the country since July 1. A total of 40 police officers and eight AFP personnel were also wounded in similar anti-narcotics operations during the period.
Carlos emphasized that the over 30,000 drug personalities were arrested unharmed by the police since they did not put up a fight and surrendered peacefully. President Duterte has ordered the police to shoot an armed drug aggressor if they deem that their lives are in danger and have to fire in self-defense and in defense of innocent civilians.
Gen. Dela Rosa has also ordered his men to give premium in the conduct of investigation, documentation and filing of charges for violation of RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 to help police score more drug convictions for the Duterte government and most importantly, prevent drug acquittals on grounds of technicality or due to bungling investigators and witnesses.
Recently, the PNP leadership hailed the conviction of Canadian Jeremy Harold Arthur Eaton in a record-breaking prosecution time of just three months. However, the conviction of Eaton was literally overshadowed by the acquittal of his co-accused, Australian national Damian Berg.
Berg was acquitted after a Makati judge ruled that police made up evidence, the decision coming in the wake of the PP leadership’s reminder on their lawyers to see to it that the charges they will file won’t be dismissed merely by reasons of technicality.
Last year, the PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management then headed by Director Benjamin B. Magalong released new guidelines in the investigation, documentation and filing of drug-related charges in the country to ensure that the PNP will score more drug convictions in the future.
The DIDM Directive prescribed the additional responsibilities of the Chief of Police, the Chief of the Investigation Office and the Investigator-on-Case in the preparation of affidavits, evidence and other documents required in the filing of cases for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The DIDM recommendations were approved by the PP leadership to ensure that there will be an increased PNP conviction rate when it comes to drug-related cases particularly those filed by the different provincial, municipal, city and station levels.
Alarmingly, a review of dismissed drug cases by the PNP-DIDM showed that a total of 1,538 RA 9165 cases have been dismissed by the courts as of August last year. Among the grounds for the dismissal of the cases were the following procedural irregularities: ‘planting’ of evidence/fabrication, chain of custody, failure to attend court hearings, inconsistent testimonies, failure of the prosecution to present evidence/failure to prosecute, insufficiency of evidence, inadmissibility of evidence due to illegal warrant served, search and seizure.