• PNP creates new anti-drug group

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    THE Philippine National Police (PNP) is forming a new group that will continue to carry out the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa disclosed on Tuesday.

    The PNP chief said members of the new group are being carefully selected. Only those with clean records will be recruited.

    “We have to make sure all drug enforcement units are clean. The vetting process is more stringent,” he added.

    President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday confirmed that he ordered the PNP chief to create a new anti-drug task force composed of police personnel with no history of corruption.

    Duterte said he decided during Monday’s command conference to allow the police to participate in the anti-drug campaign.

    The President stopped the police from conducting anti-drug operations when several policemen were linked to the kidnapping and killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo.

    “I have ordered Bato [dela Rosa]to recruit young men in the PNP who are imbued with fervor of patriotism to be the members only of the task forces. Every station should have one but members should be carefully screened, only those without a history of corruption,” he said.

    The President said he was forced to make the decision for lack of personnel.

    “I have to do it because I lack men. I am also fighting the NPA and I have this problem in Mindanao about terrorism and drugs so I need personnel,” Duterte said.

    “I need personnel so I have to call back the police again to do the job most of the times, on drugs,” he added.
    Dela Rosa said the police leadership is preparing to resume anti-drug operations amid reports from local government units that street level drug pushing is again rampant.

    “That is the general sentiment of LGUs (local government units). (Drug pushers) are again brazen and cocky. Just wait, we will be back,” Dela Rosa said when interviewed at the sidelines of the 23rd anniversary of the National Police College in Silang, Cavite.

    “We will be informed in due time. We will wait. We will surprise the enemy,” he added.

    Renewed war
    Also on Tuesday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency signed a memorandum of agreement detailing the agencies’ tasks in the renewed war on drugs.

    The agreement, according to Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office, is a vital step in clarifying the AFP’s role in the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.

    “With this agreement, we can now push through with our new and bigger role in ending the illegal drugs scourge,” he said.

    In line with this, the AFP will expand the Joint Counter-intelligence Task Force (JCTF) Noah, an ad hoc unit created to conduct drugs-related counterintelligence operations.

    The task force will assist law enforcement agencies in identifying, investigating and neutralizing those who use, sell, manufacture and distribution illegal drugs.

    Regional task groups under the AFP Unified Commands will also be established to coordinate direct action, intelligence, legal support, and community relations to PDEAs regional offices nationwide, Arevalo said.

    “The AFP will only be involved in high-impact operations and arrest of high-value targets. Our forces and assets provided for each operation will not conduct Tokhang,” he explained. Oplan Tokhang, the police campaign against illegal drugs, was stopped following Jee Ick-joo’s killing.

    Duterte said the PDEA will continue to lead the drug war.

    “It’s going to be PDEA-supervised, whether done by the military or the police,” the President said.
    Fernan Marasigan and Catherine Valente

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