LEGAZPI CITY: The Philippine National Police (PNP) will next go after illegal gambling after crushing the illegal drug trade.
In a speech before Bicol police, Director General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, the PNP chief, said the campaign against illegal gambling would be as fierce as the crackdown on drug syndicates.
“We will set our sights on eradicating illegal gambling in the country. While this is already a part of police operations, we will be giving more life and energy to this operation the same way we did with our campaign against illegal drugs,” de la Rosa said.
The PNP chief expects to drastically reduce the illegal drug trade by January 1.
De la Rosa admitted it would be hard to eliminate drugs but this should be reduced by up to 90 percent in less than four months.
“Our fearless forecast is that by January 1, we will be 70 to 90 percent free from drugs,” he said in a news conference at Camp General Simeon Ola’s on Friday.
Speaking to Bicol police, de la Rosa said “the good news is that we have significantly reduced the supply of illegal drugs in the country by some 80 to 90 percent.”
De la Rosa was in Legazpi City to oversee police security operations for the annual Peñafrancia religious festival.
The PNP chief said that with many drug suspects off the streets, people could expect their communities to be safer.
“We are posting tremendous grains and slowly but surely winning the streets from the illegal drug menace while removing the fear of crime and violence in the hearts of our countrymen,” de la Rosa said.
“If anyone is more afraid these days, these are the people who are involved in the illegal drug trade … their days are numbered because they may be arrested and jailed anytime,” he added.
In a Senate hearing last Thursday, the PNP chief said a total of 1,105 drug suspects have been killed since the government started its war on illegal drugs on July 1.
A total of 16,891 suspects have been arrested, of which 10,635 were illegal drug pushers and 6,256 were drug users.
De la Rosa also noted that 712,848 suspects have turned themselves in to authorities.
In the Bicol region alone, 87,000 people on the drug watch list have yielded, said Chief Supt. Melvin Bonafe, Bicol police regional director.
The PNP chief described the drug operations in the country as a “semi-cartel,” with many Chinese involved in the drug trade along with Filipino accomplices.
For three decades, powerful drug lords have controlled the country’s politicians, policemen, and even members of the judiciary, de la Rosa told The Manila Times.
“Policemen and prosecutors are receiving money. There’s a fiscal receiving P600 million annually from a drug lord. These drug lords are very powerful. There is also a judge being threatened by a drug lord currently put behind bars in Bilibid,” he said.
Many mayors in the country won in past elections due to drug money, de la Rosa also claimed.
“In Lanao, many mayors admitted that they won because of drug money,” he said.
The PNP chief reminded his men not to kill crime suspects but to catch them alive and put them behind bars.
“And your duty is, of course, to stay alive and catch more criminals,” de la Rosa said.