New blood in anti-drug war in short supply

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THE Philippine National Police (PNP) is having a hard time finding policemen with unblemished records to its new Drug Enforcement Group (DEG), so far recruiting just 54 men for the government’s war on illegal drugs.

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BODY BAGS Students at Far Eastern University in Manila explore an exhibit showing the effects of the government’s bloody crackdown on drugs. PHOTO BY DJ DIOSINA

In a news conference, PNP-DEG Director Sr. Supt Graciano Mijares said his newly formed group was authorized to have 477 personnel. Only 54 have joined the group so far, mostly from the abolished PNP Anti-Illegal Drug Group (AIDG).

“These 54 personnel came from the former AIDG but most of them came from the administrative side [of AIDG]who did not participate in the past [anti-drug] operations,” he said.

“We are also organizing [some personnel]at the regional level [of the PNP]. Although, it is not directly under the office of DEG but we have coordinative relationship within the level of the region,” Mijares added.

PNP Chief Ronald de la Rosa earlier told Mijares to infuse “young blood” in the PNP-DEG as part of the revamped drug war dubbed “Oplan Tokhang Part 2” and “Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded.”

Mijares also said more or less 60 personnel—commissioned and non-commissioned police officers—have signified their intentions to join the PDP-DEG as of Friday.

“We cannot tell when we will be able to complete the 477 slots. We cannot just be in a hurry, we have to choose these officers whether or not they deserve to join the group,” Mijares said.

“But, we are aiming for the soonest we can do it but I can’t give you a definite timeframe,” he added.

A background investigation will be conducted by the PNP-DEG on those who will join the new anti-illegal drug group.

“Lifestyle check of these officers are also included, of course, but for the meantime, we will be focusing on background investigation of the officers,” Mijares said.

The background investigation will cover details from the day the police officers were born up to the present, he said.

On Monday, de la Rosa unveiled the new anti-drug group of the national police after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the resumption of the war against illegal drugs.

The anti-drug campaign was suspended in January after revelations PNP-AIDG men had a hand in the kidnap-slay of Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo on trumped-up drug charges in October 2016.

Mijares claimed there has been an increase in illegal drug supply within the country. “One of the indicators is the cheap prices of drugs. I think it has amounted to P1,500 per gram compared to the original P5,000 price,” he said.

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