PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday admitted that policemen were given money for legitimate drug buy-bust operations and not as payment to kill drug suspects.
“You know you have to give the police money, because if they go out and hunt for [those]trafficking of drugs, there must be a selling and a buying, otherwise, there is no trafficking. So those reports that I give them money, I do not deny that,” the President said.
“You can ask all (members) of the army and police who worked in Davao, I give money every command conference, for operating. Now, if they have a buy-bust, they ask for money, to buy (drugs). Because if there’s no money, there’s no shabu transaction,” he added.
Duterte however admitted that some unscrupulous policemen ended up pocketing the money.
Retired police officer Arthur Lascañas earlier claimed that he and other members of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) were ordered by Duterte to kill criminals and were given money after every operation.
Asked about Lascañas claim that many people were killed by the DDS when he was the mayor of Davao City, Duterte maintained that he only sanctioned the killing of drug suspects who turned violent in legitimate police operations.
“I did not deny that hundreds of criminals died in Davao City. In my 23 years? They were wiped out,” the President said.
“But you know, I’m an employee of the government. I built a city and I will build a nation. But to the police, upon my order, just the same. Do not destroy my country, do not deprive us of our young people. You will die. They’re the same orders that I’m giving here,” he added.
“But you know, I’m an employee of the government. I built a city and I will build a nation. Hindi ko trabaho ‘yang… Pero sa pulis, upon my order, just the same. Do not destroy my country, do not deprive us of our young people. You will die. They’re the same orders that I’m giving here,” he added.
Duterte admitted that he knows Lascañas.
“Well, as a policeman, yes. I saw him once, twice a year,” he told reporters.
But the President denied that he dealt directly with a police officer like Lascañas, saying he only talked to the city’s top police official when it came to peace and security matters.
Up to PNP
Duterte said it will be up to the Philippine National Police (PNP) to decide whether or not to relaunch the administration’s war on illegal drugs through Oplan Tokhang. The campaign was suspended shortly after several police officers were implicated in the abduction and killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo, who was taken from his home under the guise of Tokhang.
Duterte said he may allow the police to resume the anti-drug operations.
“I would leave it to the PNP to decide. What do they need? What they have to do to succeed. I do not meddle in the mechanisms there. If it’s your job, then finish it. I do not inquire into how, where, what,” Duterte said during a press conference.
Over the weekend, there were calls from Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano for the President to re-launch the war on drugs, claiming that the drug trade has come back.
Duterte admitted that there had been a 20 percent rise in drug sales on the streets since the police stopped implementing Oplan Tokhang.
The President said he wants PNP chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa to give him men that he can trust to handle the campaign.
“Dela Rosa’s job is to look for young men in the PNP who are imbued with patriotic fervor to serve their country. Because there is again a rise of the drug activities by 20 percent. I told you, it’s a virulent thing. That will not end,” he added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE