Suspending Oplan tokhang will sabotage war against illegal drugs, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption on Saturday said.
The group”s founding chairman Dante Jimenez, in a statement, said suspension of Tokhang is ‘ill advised’, adding that what is needed is more cleansing of the rank and file of law enforcers, particularly the entire force of the Philippine National Police.
The statement of Jimenez following the call of Senate majority leader Vicente Sotto 3rd who urged President Rodrigo Duterte to consider stopping the war on drugs temporarily and focus on ridding the organization of “bad eggs.”
Sotto said the PNP personnel should stop their syndicate-style extortion of money from their victims who are mostly foreign businessmen.
Even PNP Director General Ronald Dela Rosa was compromised after South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo, who was kidnapped by several armed men including members of the PNP, was killed inside the Camp Crame, the national headquarters of the PNP.
Worse, Jee’s wife paid a ransom of P5 million believing that his husband was alive.
The prime suspects, Senior Police Officer (SPO3) Ricky Santa Isabel and Supt. Raphael Dumlao, alk based in Camp Crame, had denied their involvement in the crime.
Even Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said that the PNP should first cleanse its ranks before proceeding with “Oplan tokhang.”
However, a former PNP director general told The Manila Times that it will take time to get rid of police scalawags and there ‘must be a drastic move similar to tokhang’ if the government is really serious.
“Giving recollection or requiring them to listen to a bishop will not do anything to stop them from their criminal activities. Check their lifestyles and file appropriate charges questioning their wealth will be more effective,” said the former PNP chief who asked not to be identified.
So far, more than 7,000 individuals were killed via tokhang operations.
The United States, United Nations, and human rights groups are against tokhang, saying it will not at all solve drug addiction.
Some members of the Lower House are also against tokhang.
However, based on the narco list of President Duterte some congressmen themselves are into drug trade, including mayors and other elected officials, mostly at the 42,000 barangays spread nationwide.
In Manila, a number of village chiefs tested positive of illegal drugs following a mandatory drug test ordered by Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
Estrada told The Times that he will personally announce the names of drug addict village officials once confirmatory tests were done.
Malacanang on Saturday shrugged off calls for President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend his administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign amid fears that it is being used by erring policemen.
In a radio interview, Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella reiterated that Duterte is pursuing a two-track” agenda when he expresses his support to the police force.
“This was actually his platform to actually bring cleansing… Of course, we still have to determine everything.
The way we perceive it, the President is really pursuing a two, a parallel track agenda. Cleansing, on the other hand, continuing to fight illegal drugs, criminality and corruption,” Abella told government-run dzRB radio.
“I don’t know if it’s necessarily, we’re hearing what the legislative is saying. However, however let’s leave it to the President to decide regarding these matters. It comes directly under his office but we can see na ano po, ang Presidente is doing lahat po ito,” he added.
Abella issued the statement following calls by several lawmakers to suspend the administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign to focus on ridding the Philippine National Police (PNP) of scalawags.
This came after reports that police officers have used the administration’s anti-illegal drugs campaign 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 policemen and was killed inside the Camp Crame, the PNP’s national headquarters.
The victim’s wife paid a ransom of P5 million believing that Jee was alive. The prime suspects, Senior Police Officer 3 Ricky Santa Isabel and Supt. Raphael Dumlao had denied their involvement in the crime.
Jee’s killing has led to calls for PNP Chief Director-General Ronald dela Rosa to resign, a proposal which was turned down by Duterte.
Abella said that while the President promises protection for policemen performing their duty, he will not tolerate abusive and corrupt cops.
“The President continues to protect their efforts, assuming regularity… [But] the President has also said he will deal quite severely with those who are erring,” he said.
The PNP has been conducting “Oplan Tokhang” (knock and plead) as part of the President’s intensive campaign against illegal drugs.
Some of the operations have been criticized for the bloody outcomes, where drug suspects are killed by police for allegedly fighting back.
Duterte has always been vocal in his support for the police, saying he will back them up should they face charges in the performance of their duty.
On Thursday, the President apologized to South Korea after police suspects killed one of its citizens as he promised that the culprits will be given the “maximum” punishment.
Duterte said he would even send the heads of the perpetrators to Seoul.
“You will suffer. Make a move to escape. Then I would thank the gods. Then I can maybe send your head to South Korea,” the President told the killer.