February 01, 2017
By: Dolly Yasa and F. Allan L. Angelo
POLICE in Western Visayas and Negros Island Region (NIR) vowed to cleanse their ranks as they go on a hiatus of sorts in the war on drugs.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Negros said they are confident in accomplishing their primary work despite the lack of personnel.
Superintendent Gilbert Gorero, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) spokesperson, said internal cleansing of Western Visayas police started prior to the massive operations against illegal drugs.
Gorero said the regional office conducted three batches of Cadet Character Aptitude Development and Enhancement Training (CADET), which is part of the cleansing program.
“We will continue with the program as long as there are complaints against our erring police officers. We call for the support of the public in bringing to our attention erring police officers,” he added.
Gorero said all anti-illegal drugs task forces from the regional office down to the municipal police stations will be dismantled.
“They will now become focused on tracker teams that will run after persons with warrants of arrest,” he said.
Gorero also explained that they will serve as support group to PDEA in anti-illegal drugs operations.
But he assured that the rehabilitation program offered by PRO 6 for drug dependents will continue.
In Negros, Chief Supt. Renato Gumban, PRO-18 regional director, reiterated the order of the PNP high command for policemen to cease and desist from engaging in anti-illegal drugs operation.
This includes Operation Tokhang, which was also suspended.
Chief Inspector Dianne Catedral, PRO-18 spokesperson, said this is in line with the directive issued by President Rodrigo Duterte during the Joint PNP-AFP Command Conference at Malacañang on Jan. 29, 2017.
The directive stated that the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Task Group (AIDG) and unit at all levels shall be deactivated.
With the directive, Catedral said the PNP shall cease and desist from conducting anti-illegal drug operations (buy-bust operation, service search warrant etc.).
However, walk-in surrenderers should still be processed at the police stations according to the PNP procedure and guidelines.
Catedral added that all drug related operations will be temporarily conducted solely by PDEA.
The PNP will concentrate on seven focus crimes including rape, internal cleansing and police community relations activities.
Lawyer Roselyn Borja, PDEA-Negros director, said they are confident in taking over the anti-illegal drug duties from the PNP despite the shortage in agents.
Borja said that under Section 84 of Republic Act No. 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002), one of their powers and duties is to undertake national campaign on drug abuse, prevention, and drug control programs.
She said they may still enlist the assistance of any department bureau, office, agency, or instrumentality of the government in the anti-illegal drug campaign. (With a report from PNA)