CAMP ROMEO ABENDAN, Zamboanga City: The Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) has claimed that a total of 20,526 drug suspects have surrendered since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office.
Seven suspected drug pushers were killed while 58 others were arrested in anti-drug operations here in the region.
Chief Supt. Billy Beltran, PRO-9 officer-in-charge, told the Philippines News Agency that 19,587 of the 20,526 who surrendered as of July 13 were users while the remaining 939 were pushers.
Beltran said the surrender was under the campaign known as Operations plan “Tok-tok, Hangyo” (Oplan Tokhang) or knock and plead, aimed at curbing the problem on prohibited drugs in the country.
Beltran said the 19,587 users who surrendered were from the following areas: Zamboanga del Norte, 4,589; Zamboanga del Sur, 5,077; Zamboanga Sibugay, 6,150; and Zamboanga City, 3,771.
The 939 pusher-surrenderees are from Zamboanga del Norte, 189; Zamboanga del Sur, 307; Zamboanga Sibugay, 270; and Zamboanga City, 173.
Beltran disclosed that seven of the pushers who surrendered were listed as high-value targets.
Beltran said they have conducted a total of 17,993 house visitations in the entire region in line with Oplan Tokhang that resulted in the surrender of 20,526 drug suspects.
The house visitations were conducted in Zamboanga del Norte, 4,425; Zamboanga del Sur, 2,661; Zamboanga Sibugay, 8,657; and, Zamboanga City, 2,250.
Beltran said the number of surrenderees was expected to increase as there were reports that many drug characters had signified intention to surrender.
“Generally, halos lahat ng police stations natin ay performing and doing well, except for a very few. Overall, ang performance ng PRO-9 is above expectation at isa tayo sa nangunguna sa project na ito [Generally, almost all the police stations under my command are performing well, except for a very few. Overall, the performance of PRO-9 is above expectation and it is one of those leading under the Oplan],” Beltran said.
Resisting police arrest
He said five of the seven slain suspected drug pushers were killed in a shootout during anti-drug operations in Zamboanga City, one in Zamboanga del Norte and one in Zamboanga Sibugay.
He said the shootout ensued as the suspected drug pushers resisted and fought back the arresting policemen.
“Lahat ng operations na ginawa ng pulis ay puro legitimate police action [All the operations conducted by the police were legitimate]. They chose to fight it out, they were killed during armed encounters with the policemen,” he said.
He said the 58 suspected drug pushers were arrested in the following places: Zamboanga del Norte, 10; Zamboanga del Sur, eight; Zamboanga Sibugay, four; and, Zamboanga City, 36.
During the profiling, Beltran said the surrenderees were asked who sell prohibited drugs as well as where do they get the stocks and other pertinent questions.
Beltran said the surrenderees have signed a waiver stating that they agree to undergo random drug test, to be visited at home, and to periodically report to the barangay hall or to the police headquarters.
He has encouraged the other pushers and users to surrender citing the government is determined “to get all of you at all cost, dead or alive.”
“We want you to come in, surrender yourself, because we want to give you a second chance na maging productive member of the community. But if you chose to defy itong change that is shaping the country right now, if you choose to fight it out, sisiguraduhin namin we will emerge victorious,” Beltran added.
He also reminded the police to ensure the anti-drug operations “ay by the book, legal, wala tayong lalabagin na batas including human rights [is by the book, that we will not break any law including those about human rights].”