MANILA, Philippines – With the country’s police force plagued by corruption and allegations of abuses, President Duterte is bestowing upon the military the task of arresting rogue policemen and drug offenders as he begins purging the Philippine National Police (PNP) of scalawags and misfits.
“No policeman in this country anywhere is allowed to enforce laws related to the drug campaign. Kasi magamit nila ’yan, palitan nila ‘yang warrant, palitan lang ang pangalan tapos pupunta (Because they can use and change the names in the warrant and then they proceed),” the President said yesterday as he swore in newly promoted military generals at Malacañang.
“Let me reorganize the enforcement (against) drugs by the police. In the meantime, they would be arrested and I will order you to arrest them,” he told the generals and other military officers.
He admitted some policemen could have taken advantage of his anti-drug campaign to commit wrongdoings.
The PNP has suspended all its anti-drug operations, including Oplan Tokhang, in the wake of outrage over the killing of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo by members of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group.
Jee was reportedly kidnapped by policemen in Angeles, Pampanga on Oct. 18, 2016 and strangled to death inside PNP headquarters at Camp Crame.
Witnesses claimed the businessman’s body was cremated and his ashes flushed down the toilet.
Jee’s kidnappers reportedly made it appear that Jee was still alive a day after his abduction and demanded P5-million ransom from his wife.
Duterte has apologized to the Koreans for the incident and assured Jee’s widow Choi Kyung-jin that justice would be “swiftly served.”
He has also ordered the abolition of all anti-drug units of the PNP and placed all narcotics-related operations under the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
The President claimed about 6,000 policemen are into illegal drugs, prompting him to tap the military to assist in his narcotics crackdown.
“Kung hindi ko kayo ipasok sa laro, patay ako. Walang magtingin diyan sa abusadong pulis (If I don’t put you in the picture, I am doomed. Nobody will look after the abusive policemen),” he said. “The culture of corruption in the police is matindi (serious).”
Duterte said his chief legal adviser Salvador Panelo is going to Seoul to extend the President’s apologies to the South Korean government.
“I told him to make a good apology. We can’t do anything. It happened. Ang pinakabastos sa lahat, ang masakit daw sa kanila is talagang ‘yung (What they found most execrable and painful) is flushing (the ashes) down the drain, the toilet bowl,” the President said.
“Nasaktan sila. Maski naman gawin sa atin ‘yan (They were hurt. We would have felt the same if it were done to us).”
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, meanwhile, said Duterte also wants the revival of the Philippine Constabulary to strengthen the fight against crime, especially illegal drugs.
“His main concern is really anti-corruption … The Philippine Constabulary would be composed of gentlemen from the Armed Forces and from the military, which would be different from the PNP,” he said. The PC had its heyday during the martial law era.
“So he’s basically saying that they would be in a sense a more trustworthy organization… They are not civilian-run like the PNP but run by authority under the Armed Forces,” Abella said.
He explained the revived PC would be more national in scope while the PNP would be localized in its operations.
But National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said it would take some time before the PC could be revived as such endeavor would require legislation.
Esperon revealed the President is considering the idea of tapping some units from the military to take the lead in the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.
The President has also directed the PDEA to take the lead role in the drug campaign, which is the actual mandate of the group.
“There’s no timeline regarding that, except that we do know that, first and foremost, referring to the question about the police, it (anti-drug campaign) will be transferred to the PDEA,” Abella added.
He clarified that Operation Tokhang will still have the PDEA as lead enforcer, as Duterte has ordered all police units to stop their anti-drug operations.
“I think we need to make a correction. The impression is that it stopped, no. What happens is the local police, the PNP, has been asked to desist from engaging in anti-drug operations. But the operations will continue under the PDEA,” he said.
The PC was abolished in the late 1990s as it was associated with the implementation of martial law under the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. – Christina Mendez
Philippines: Filipino’s killed by police without a court warrant or hearing in President Duterte’s “war on drugs.”
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