THE Philippine National Police leadership has underscored a whole of government approach in fighting illegal drug trafficking and abuse in the country and most particularly pressed what they termed as ‘focused investigation’ to once and for all unmask and jail drug traffickers, manufacturers and their protectors in the government.
“Right now, on orders of PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, we are pushing for a focused investigation on all drug-related matters and are tapping the help of all concerned government agencies, schools, out-of-school youths, jails, workplaces and local government units in our programs leading to barangay-clearing operations,” said PNP Director for Operations Chief Superintendent Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan.
Cascolan, a classmate of Gen. Dela Rosa from Philippine Military Academy ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986, said that at present, the 18 Police Regional Offices spread across the country are targeting for neutralization over 365,000 known drug personalities in their areas.
The official said that from July 1 to last Friday, police across the country have visited over 3 million houses in line with the implementation of the PNP Oplan: Tokhang leading to the surrender of nearly 760,000 confessed drug personalities, more than 55,000 of them drug dealers and the rest users.
Cascolan said that the PNP during the period also conducted over 34,000 anti-narcotics operations, resulting in the killing of 1,795 armed drug dealers during gunbattles with arresting officers and the arrest of more than 33,200 drug offenders, some 20,000 of them wanted for involvement in illicit drug trafficking.
The official said that during the same period, 23 of the 956 ‘high-value’ drug targets or HVTs validated by the PNP Directorate for Intelligence engaged officers in gunfights while being arrested and were killed in the process. Another 109 were arrested while 361 surrendered after feeling the heat of the intense police operation to get them, he said.
Cascolan said that 493 or 51.56 percent of the total 956 HVTs have been ‘neutralized’ during the period. Among those killed were suspected drug lords Mico Tan, Jeffrey Diaz, alias Jaguar; Cangbo Zheng and Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, who was killed in a gunfight with PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group agents who raided his cell in Leyte last Saturday.
The PNP official emphasized that with hundreds of thousands of confessed drug dependents surrendering to the police as a result of the ‘Oplan Double Barrel’ ordered launched by President Duterte and Gen. Dela Rosa, there is a big need to use a ‘whole of government approach’ and the full cooperation of the public to solve the country’s drug menace.
The PNP leadership maintained that solving the drug menace does not lie solely on the hands of the 160,000-strong police force but the wholehearted support of all concerned government agencies specifically the Departments of Health, Education and Social Welfare and Development, local government units and the citizenry as stated in Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Right now, police are being confronted by a very big problem: Where to house the thousands of drug users who have turned themselves in to police authorities as a result of President Duterte’s vow to crush drug trafficking and abuse in the next six months? It’s a problem that needs to be sufficiently addressed by concerned government agencies and not only the police, officials said.
The surge in the number of drug users who have surrendered or planned to yield to the police prompted officials to request the Journal Group to run salient points of RA 9165 which was crafted to address the country’s drug problem.
Article III of RA 9165 pertains to Dangerous Drugs Test and Records Requirements.
Section 36 of the law says that ‘authorized drug testing shall be done by any government forensic laboratories or by any of the drug testing laboratories accredited and monitored by the Department of Health (DOH) to safeguard the quality of test results. The DOH shall take steps in setting the price of the drug test with DOH-accredited drug testing centers to further reduce the cost of such drug test. The drug testing shall employ, among others, two (2) testing methods, the screening test which will determine the positive result as well as the type of the drug used and the confirmatory test which will confirm a positive screening test.
Drug test certificates issued by accredited drug testing centers shall be valid for a one-year period from the date of issue which may be used for other purposes. RA 9165 states that the following shall be subjected to undergo drug testing:
(a) Applicants for driver’s license. -- No driver’s license shall be issued or renewed to any person unless he/she presents a certification that he/she has undergone a mandatory drug test and indicating thereon that he/she is free from the use of dangerous drugs;
(b) Applicants for firearm’s license and for permit to carry firearms outside of residence. -- All applicants for firearm’s license and permit to carry firearms outside of residence shall undergo a mandatory drug test to ensure that they are free from the use of dangerous drugs: Provided, that all persons who by the nature of their profession carry firearms shall undergo drug testing;