After tagging the Philippine National Police (PNP) as “corrupt to the core,” President Duterte dissolved the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) of the PNP in efforts to cleanse it of corrupt police officers. Following the President’s move, PNP chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa yesterday suspended the conduct of anti-illegal drugs operation nationwide to focus on the cleansing of the police force.
“We have to focus our efforts towards internal cleansing. And by the time na ma-cleanse natin ang PNP, the President will determine that and he will instruct us to go back on the war on drugs. But right now, no more drug operations,” he said.
Upon instructions of the President, Dela Rosa is set to create a Counter Intelligence Task Force (CITF) who will report directly to him on whatever they have gathered about the illegal activities of policemen.
A visibly irked Duterte called a press conference close to midnight Sunday as the country went to sleep to dish out orders following the abduction of Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo last October 18 by operatives of the AIDG. Jee was brought to Camp Crame, the police headquarters and was reportedly killed inside the camp only a stone’s throw away from the official residence of Dela Rosa.
The incident embarrassed the country, the President and questioned credibility of the police in carrying out the war on drugs campaign of the President. The President promised members of the PNP to shield them from prosecution in the illegal drugs campaign.
Duterte said the ‘sordid incident’ left him with no choice but to reorganize the organization and implement ‘severe corrections’ in the system.
“My enemies here are the police who are criminals,” he said.
Dela Rosa offered to resign as PNP chief Saturday to give the President a free hand to choose someone who can do the job within his expectations. But the President rejected the offer and changed tact. Police scalawags will continue with or without Dela Rosa, he said.
“Jee’s murder is an injustice, but to ask for the head of the PNP chief, there’s no rhyme or reason for that. Even if you say chain of command,” Duterte said.
“I don’t want to belabor the President for whatever misdeeds that the PNP has done. I don’t want to add more embarrassment to the country,” Dela Rosa said.
“Again, not all those assigned to anti-drugs units of the PNP are bad. Unfortunately, there are bad eggs in the service but most of them are honest,” he qualified.
“I am sorry for them. Most of them are performing very well and I am very sorry for their eventual dissolution because they were just caught up with the mess. I am very sorry, but the President said we need drastic actions and this is the drastic action we are taking right now, all units are dissolved,” he said.
Dela Rosa, however, assured those assigned to AIDG units and are not involved in illegal activities will be given new assignments. Their new assignments will depend on their superiors.
All anti-illegal drugs operations will be done by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Unit (PDEA)
Since the launch of “Oplan Tokhang,” the PNP’s all-out war on illegal drugs, the project has resulted in the surrender of 1,178,224 drug personalities from July 1, 2016 up to 6 a.m. of January 30, 2017.
A total of 7,031,194 homes were also visited by policemen in order to convince illegal drug users and pushers to end their illegal activities.
End of term
In his earnest to reform the police force, the President said the war against illegal drugs will be carried out until the end of his term. He earlier extended the operations against illegal drug syndicates until March.
He also directed Dela Rosa to review the records of cops, especially those with criminal records but who were reinstated into the service.
Duterte said he will clean the police roster of rogue cops who are “just as lousy as the drug lords” who continue to collect their salaries despite their criminal cases.
The President noted that new graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy even choose assignments in regions where they can make money. “I would like to establish control in Basilan and Jolo. In Lanao there’s a fight going on. Doon muna sila mag-duty. Basta ‘yung may mga kaso lahat (Everyone who faced charges will be sent there),” he said.
Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile appealed to the nation to give the PNP leadership a chance to cleanse its ranks to make it more efficient.
Enrile, who served for 17 years as Defense Minister of the late President Marcos said the existence of bag eggs in the police force is a given, particularly when there are 150,000 PNP members “but I am not justifying what is going on but you have to be patient….give a chance to your law enforcement organization to cleanse its own organization.”
What should be erased from law books is the National Police Commission (Napolcom), a layer in the government bureaucracy “that was put up by Cory (the late President Corazon C. Aquino) in the 1987 Constitution that would handle the police force.”
Because of the existence of Napolcom, “the DILG secretary cannot move when he is supposed to be in charge of internal security of the country,” he added. Because of this, the national government is like the United Nations (UN) Security Council where a veto by one member stops any action by the world body.
“That is why these things are happening. The system is rotten,” Enrile explained.
Asked whether he supports the Duterte administration despite summary or extra judicial killings (EJKs), Enrile said he supports it as a citizen of the country “if they enforce the law otherwise what do we have? Anarchy.”
“The presumption is that they are enforcing the law. If you have concrete evidence to show that they are not enforcing the law. But if they are rogue (elements) that is something else,” he said.
“But until that is proven, you have to presume they are enforcing the law…they are abiding by the Constitution,’’ he added.
More drastic steps
Senator Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV commended Dela Rosa for stopping their anti-illegal drugs operation to focus on cleansing their ranks.
“This is a step in the right direction for the PNP as it works on regaining the public trust after several controversial incidents involving bad elements within the organization,” Aquino said.
But House leaders are demanding “more drastic and swift” reforms.
“The abolition of the AIDG is a welcome move. And yes, there definitely is a pressing need for more drastic and swift reforms in the PNP,” Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia said.
AKO Bicol partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe also challenged the PNP leadership to double its efforts to cleanse its ranks.