LAWMAKERS have expressed support for the renewed anti-illegal drugs campaign of the Philippine National Police (PNP) dubbed “Oplan Double Barrel: Reloaded,” but sought enough safeguards to prevent abuses which marked the agency’s earlier operations.
Members of the House committee on public order and safety chaired by Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop expressed their support for the PNP’s enhanced anti-illegal drugs campaign and called for safeguards against its abuses during a recent briefing conducted by police officials led by PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on the accomplishments of “Double Barrel,” “Double Barrel Alpha,” and the recently-formulated “Double Barrel Reloaded,” which the PNP said have gained headway in the drive against illegal drugs.
Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao lauded the Duterte administration and the PNP for the war against drugs. He, however, asked Dela Rosa to cleanse the organization of scalawags, especially those directly engaged in the battle against the drug menace.
On the so-called “rogue cops” who were sent to Basilan, Siao wondered why they were assigned to Basilan instead of suspending or dismissing them from the service.
Dela Rosa replied that it is not easy to dismiss police officers from the service, so sending them to Basilan was a way to uproot them from their comfort zone.
Because of the scalawags in the PNP, Dela Rosa said the vetting process used in screening members of the anti-drugs campaign is now very strict. He stressed that a thorough background investigation and interview are being conducted on police officers prior to inclusion in the anti-drug campaign.
A counter-intelligence task force has also been created to monitor the anti-illegal drugs operations, said Dela Rosa.
Muntinlupa City Rep. Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon said the first “Oplan Double Barrel” was stopped because of some abuses and mistakes, and expressed hope that under the “Oplan Double Barrel: Reloaded,” such mistakes have been corrected.
Biazon, a staunch anti-illegal drugs advocate, said “Double Barrel” is not a product of strategy arrived at by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) nor of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), but merely a PNP creation.
He asked the PNP chief where the “Double Barrel: Reloaded” fits in the national strategy of the national government.
He also expressed concern over Executive Order No. 15, creating an inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs and anti-illegal drug task force, citing Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Law that mandates the Dangerous Drugs Board as the policy-making body and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as the implementing arm.
Biazon, however, pointed out that EO 15 places PDEA as chair and DDB as mere member.
Dela Rosa replied that since the PNP has been very aggressive in its war against drugs, it failed to realize that it should have been only the good police officers who should have been involved in the anti-drug campaign.
Dela Rosa said the PNP is now more careful in the selection of personnel who will be included in the drug campaign and will ensure the abuses and mistakes in the previous anti-illegal drugs operation will not be repeated.
Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr. commended President Duterte and Dela Rosa for their sincerity in the war against drugs, but stressed the need to clean the ranks of the PNP and the PDEA of scalawags in order to sustain the initial success of the anti-drug operations.
Teves also sought the close coordination and cooperation of the PNP for an out-patient community-based rehabilitation program, which is being implemented in his district. He lamented that the PNP seldom turns over drug dependents for rehabilitation.
Acop asked the PNP about the reasons for the changes in the name of its anti-drugs program.