DUTERTE PUTS END TO BLOODY POLICE CAMPAIGN VERSUS DRUGS
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
There is an upside to the case of a South Korean businessman allegedly linked to illegal drugs who was kidnapped for ransom but eventually killed by elements of the Philippine police.
Police extortion using the campaign against drugs and gory scenes of summary executions of suspects allegedly linked to illegal drugs may be coming to an end.
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a stop to his bloody campaign against drugs carried out by the Philippine National Police (PNP) that has cost the lives of thousands of suspects.
Duterte’s deadly crackdown on illegal drug has sparked widespread accusations of state-sponsored Extra-Judicial Killing (EJK) from local and international human rights groups, including the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) and the Catholic Church.
In what is seen as an admission that his war on drugs has gone haywire, Duterte has ordered a stop to the police anti-illegal drugs operation and the cleansing of the police force after the kidnap-slay of Jee Ick-jo by members of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG), a special unit under the PNP.
The case has opened a Pandora’s Box revealing scalawag policemen using the anti-illegal drugs campaign in extortion, robbery and kidnap-for-ransom.
“Policemen are the most corrupt. You are corrupt to the core. It’s in your system,” Duterte said on Monday, January 30, as he admitted widespread corruption in the Philippine National Police (PNP).
He pegged at nearly 40 percent the number of the police force engaged in illegal activities.
A fuming mad Duterte dished out the indictment as policemen are being probed for links into the kidnap-slaying of the South Korean businessman.
Police chief General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa said he has ordered the disbandment of all of the PNP’s anti-drug units across the country.
“No more anti-drug operations. We have to focus our efforts towards internal cleansing,” Dela Rosa said. I melted in shame at police involvement in the kidnapping and killing of Jee, he said.
Dela Rosa is the poster boy of Oplan Tokhang, which frontlines the anti-illegal drugs campaign, that was launched as soon as Duterte took office as President after the May 2016 elections.
Duterte has given top priority to the war on drugs, saying that narco-politics has already seeped into the Philippine system. He said terminating drug lords and pushers is the way to stop the Philippines from becoming a narco state like some countries in Latin America.
He has a list of officials from Congress down to the barangays, the military and police, including the courts, allegedly involved in illegal drugs.
While human rights groups may feel relieved at Duterte’s announcement to put a stop to the police handling the anti-drugs operation, he said the drug war would continue up to the end of his term in 2022 but would now be carried out by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
The backdrop of the police anti-illegal drugs campaign is a mayhem of death and violence, with bullet-riddled victims with scribbled notes left by assailants identifying them as drug pushers.
About 4,000 people have been left dead since Oplan Tokhang was launched middle of last year.
Police always claim the victims were armed and were exterminated in shootouts with police operatives.