HAVING been given by President Duterte six more months to carry on with their massive anti-narcotics campaign nationwide, the Philippine National Police headed by Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa is now setting its sights on ‘high-value’ targets under its Project HVT, officials announced yesterday.
These targets include leaders of three transnational drug organizations operating in the country, exploiting the largely unguarded coastlines of the Philippines and using the international and local airports and seaports as well as mail and parcel services to transport illegal drugs and its controlled precursors and essential chemicals.
Dela Rosa identified the three foreign drug rings as the Chinese or Filipino-Chinese drug syndicates, the African Drug syndicate and the Mexican-Sinaloa Drug Cartel. At present, shabu continues to be the most abused drug in the country followed by marijuana and costly party drugs like cocaine and the designer drug called ‘Ecstasy.’
Project HVT is part of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drug Campaign Plan called Project: Double Barrel ordered by Gen. dela Rosa since he took over as the country’s top cop last July 1. Over the past three months, police have shot and killed nearly 1,400 armed drug traffickers in gunbattles across the country and arrested over 22,000 others. These operations, however, have cost the lives of 13 policemen and three soldiers and injuries to 38 other police officers and eight Armed Forces personnel.
The other is the vaunted Project: Tokhang which is the lower barrel approach in the campaign against illegal drug trafficking and abuse being conducted by the PNP in coordination with local government units particularly the Provincial/City/Municipal/Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils, non-government organizations, different stakeholders and other law enforcement agencies.
Since July 1, police have visited nearly 1.6 million houses nationwide triggering the surrender of over 730,000 confessed drug offenders, nearly 53,000 of them drug dealers and the rest confessed drug users.
Gen. dela Rosa said that since they were given another six months to rid the country of illegal drugs, they would take the time to evaluate their performance and then modify their strategy.
“Magsi-shift tayo, may ginagawa tayo na panibagong campaign plan: Double Barrel 2. So may pagbabago iyong present campaign after three months. Iyon kasi ang timeline namin, eh. After three months, i-evaluate namin ang performance ng lahat ng units then pag-aralan namin ang success ng campaign plan na iyan,” the sharpshooting member of Philippine Military Academy ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986 said.
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 to avoid overlapping of operational functions.
Under the project, the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group headed by Senior Superintendent Albert Ignatius D. Ferro has been tasked to go after national and regional level drug trafficking and foreigners involved in large-scale drug smuggling, manufacturing and trafficking.
On the other hand, the Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Groups headed by the 18 Police Regional Office directors are under orders to concentrate on illegal drug trafficking across district/provincial boundaries.
The Provincial AIDSOTGs headed by the Provincial Director, the District AIDSOTGs headed by the five District Directors of the National Capital Region Police Office and City AISOTGs headed by the different City Directors/Chiefs of Police meanwhile will be responsible for eradicating street-level drug distribution in their areas thru barangay drug-clearing operations pursuant to Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 2 Series of 2007.
“Kung kailangan ng revisions, modifications, iyon ang gagawin namin na campaign plan na Project Double Barrel 2. May modifications na, may additions like for example more emphasis, giving more attention sa high value targets,” said Gen. dela Rosa.
The PNP chief had aired plans to create a Special Bloc that would run after high-value drug targets similar to what the Colombian government did in 1992 to capture most wanted Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar until he was killed a year later. Dela Rosa, two weeks ago, visited Colombia to exchange notes with his Colombian counterparts when it comes to fighting drugs, crime and corruption.
The PNP chief also expressed belief that the Duterte government is winning the war against illegal drugs.