NATIONAL Capital Region Police Office director, Chief Superintendent Oscar D. Albayalde yesterday expressed frustration over the failure of many Metro Manila barangay officials to fully cooperate with the police in their aggressive crackdown against illegal drug trafficking and abuse.
“Some 15 to 20 percent of the total number of barangays in the National Capital Region are yet to fully support the anti-drug initiatives of the Duterte administration and the PNP leadership. Some are reluctant to cooperate with the police for different reasons,” said Albayalde, a classmate at the PMA ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986 of PNP chief, Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa.
The NCRPO chief said around 341 barangays in the metropolis appear to be lukewarm attitude when it comes to the fight against drugs. It is a known fact that scores of local MM government officials have been directly or indirectly involved in illegal drug trafficking and abuse, with some of them having close relatives who are On the PNP watch list.
As of latest count, the NCRPO is targeting nearly 53,000 drug personalities in Metro Manila which remains the center of illegal drug activities in the country.
The NCRPO’s all-out campaign versus drugs comes in the wake of observation that President Duterte will go on record as the first Chief Executive to have unmasked public officials, law enforcers and even celebrities involved in illegal drug trafficking and abuse.
Officials of the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency before have posed the question: How can public officials including barangay authorities effectively help the national government arrest the major drug threat in the country when they themselves are either directly or indirectly involved in illicit drug trafficking and abuse?
Officials mentioned dozens of elected or former mayors and vice-mayors and lawmakers already identified by President Duterte as having links with drugs or those who have not stopped their relatives from engaging in illegal drug activities.
Among them are Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. -- who was killed in a controversial police raid inside the Baybay City jail last Saturday -- and his son Kerwin who is now being held in an Abu Dhabi jail. Both were slapped with non-bailable charges after police found around P88 million worth of shabu and improvised explosive devices in their ancestral home days after six of their heavily-armed supporters were killed in a gunbattle.
There is also the case of Luisito ‘Pachot’ Asistio, a brother of Caloocan City Vice Mayor Macario Asistio who is now the target of a manhunt for allegedly operating a secret shabu den in the city; and Quezon City Councilor Hero Bautista, a brother of Q.C. Mayor Herbert Bautista who tested positive for substance abuse.
To address the problem, the PNP launched the Project: Double Barrel Alpha which will see police working more closely with local government authorities and residents to ‘clear’ drug-affected barangays.
The new police tact was approved in the wake of validated reports that nearly 30 percent of the country’s 42,029 barangays are considered ‘drug-affected’ with the menace particularly being felt in majority of Metro Manila barangay, Calabarzon region and Central Visayas.
The PDEA headed by Director General Isidro S. Lapeña said that from 2011 to June 2015 alone, a total of 548 government officials were arrested for violation of the anti-narcotics law: 29 in 2011, 65 in 2012, 138 in 2013, 190 in 2014, and 126 from January to June 2015.
PDEA records showed that of the 548 government officials arrested from 2011 to June 2015, 158 or 29 percent were elected officials; 246 or 45 percent were government employees while 144 or 26 percent were members of different law enforcement agencies.
Many of them have been ordered jailed and barred from holding any public office anymore while others are still being tried criminally and administratively.
Of the 158 elected officials arrested, 1 was a provincial board member, 3 are municipal councilors, 1 is a candidate for mayor, 1 a vice-mayor, 124 are barangay councilors and 28 are barangay chairmen.
On the other hand, of the 246 government employees arrested during the period, 151 belong to different local government units, 63 are barangay employees, 12 are public school teachers under the Department of Education while 20 others are assigned to different government agencies.