THE Philippine National Police (PNP) formally re-launched on Monday its new anti-drug arm, with Director General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa saying the renewed war on drugs would be more extensive, aggressive and well-coordinated.
The PNP is also aiming for “less bloody, if not bloodless” operations as every police sting should be coordinated not only with barangay (village) officials but with the local church, which will represent the religious sector that has been complaining of rampant drug-related killings.
“We are considering all religious sects. If the parish priest is not available, the Protestant pastor or the imam of the Muslim community may join,” de la Rosa said in a news conference.
He said members of the religious sector who would join the re-launched anti-drug drive “Oplan Tokhang Part 2-Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded” would be provided with bulletproof vests and armored helmets.
Religious leaders will only be allowed to join Oplan Tokhang Part 2 in which police visit the homes of drug suspects and plead to them to surrender, the PNP chief said.
“This is not actual service of warrant or actual drug buy-bust operation. This is knock and plead. But if they (priests) want to join the operations of the drug enforcement units, then we welcome them, but they have to take the risk,” he explained.
Headed by Sr. Supt. Graciano Mijares, the new PNP Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) will have built-in systems that guarantee full accountability and instill internal discipline among all personnel, de la Rosa said.
The original Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Double Barrel were suspended in January after it was found that police anti-drug operatives killed Korean executive Jee Ick Joo in October 2016 right inside the PNP headquarters in
Camp Crame. President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the military to take over the drug war.
The PNP-DEG is a national operational support unit that will serve as the lead unit in police anti-drug operations.
The PNP chief said positions in the PNP-DEG were vacant. Applicants will undergo rigid screening and complete background investigation. Only policemen with “unsullied service reputation, unblemished record, and a character beyond suspicion” will be accepted, he said.
Eighteen Regional Drug Enforcement Units (RDEU) and five District Drug Enforcement Units (DDEU) in Metro Manila will be formed while Drug Enforcement Teams (DET) will be organized in provincial, city and municipal police offices and stations.
The PNP chief also said the PNP-DEG will have a built-in Counter-Intelligence Section embedded in its intelligence division to provide a fully functional internal disciplinary mechanism against lapses and abuses.
The new anti-drug group will also have its own Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) and K-9 units.
It was Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano who called for the revival of the PNP’s drug war in a pro-Duterte rally on February 25, arguing that drug traders were back on the streets.
De la Rosa said: “According to our assessment of the drug situation as validated by PDEA’s own estimates, there has been a hike in drug activities during the period when we suspended our anti-drug operations, particularly against, street and middle-level drug traffickers, and high-value targets.”
“Until today, we continue to receive reports of the resurgence of drug activities even in some areas that had been previously ‘cleared.’ It only goes to show that we cannot afford to lower our guard when confronting a vicious enemy. There must be continuity of effort if the desire is to completely eradicate the problem,” he added.
De la Rosa said the President gave the PNP the go-ahead to resume the anti-drug operation in support of the PDEA, which does not have enough manpower to lead the drug war.
The PNP chief urged the public to provide information on activities of drug traders in their areas by calling or texting DEG hotlines 09178950544 and 09989992286.