Senators say PNP should focus on cleansing ranks
SEVERAL senators want the Philippine National Police (PNP) to suspend its anti-illegal drug campaign “Oplan Tokhang” while officials rid the institution of scalawags.
Senate majority leader Vicente Sotto 3rd said the PNP should consider stopping the war on drugs temporarily and focus on ridding the organization of “bad eggs.”
Sotto made the call following reports that police officers have used the anti-illegal drugs campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte to extort money from their victims who are mostly foreign businessmen.
The most recent case was that of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo, who was kidnapped by several armed men including members of the PNP and was killed inside the Cam Crame, the national headquarters of the PNP.
The victim’s wife paid a ransom of P5 million believing that Jee was alive. The prime suspects, Senior Police Officer (SPO3) Ricky Santa Isabel and Supt. Raphael Dumlao had denied their involvement in the crime.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito also issued the same call, saying that the PNP should first cleanse its ranks before proceeding with “Oplan tokhang.”
“The PNP should consider suspending Oplan tokhang while they are cleansing their ranks as a result of this controversial case,” Ejercito said.
He stressed that it is crucial for the PNP to get rid of police scalawags to restore the trust and confidence in the police force.
At the House of Representatives, Rep. Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list said Jee’s murder proves that the legality of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs is questionable.
“Considering that the PNP is the main implementer of the current administration’s war on drugs, this case further raises question on the conduct of supposedly anti-illegal drugs operations. This [murder of Jee]and the extrajudicial killings, as well as the questionable death of Leyte Mayor [Rolando] Espinosa, put the credibility of the PNP on the line,” Alejano, a former Marine captain, said in a statement.
“How can we assure that all other anti-illegal drugs operations are being conducted within the bounds of law?” he added.
But Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the PNP leadership can carry on with the campaign against illegal drugs while ridding the institution of scalawags.
“It has to be done simultaneously — you have all-out war on illegal drugs and an all-out war inside,” he said.
PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa also does not see the need for them to suspend “Oplan Tokhang” amid fears that the bloody campaign is being used by some police officers to extort money.
Dela Rosa pointed out that not all “tokhang” operations ended in killings.
“You can ask the 1.3 million drug personalities who surrendered if they were kidnapped or were asked to pay ransom. They’re not, so what’s the reason behind it (petition)?” he told reporters in an interview.
“Do they want to suspend Tokhang so that the drug problem will return? They are asking for the worst,” he said in Filipino.
Dela Rosa was reacting to the petition filed at the Supreme Court (SC) by the Center for International Law (CenterLaw) on Thursday.
The group asked the High Court to suspend “Tokhang” operations in some communities in Quezon City after some of the relatives of those who were killed during the police operation claimed that they are being harassed.