HOR COMPLEX, Quezon City (DWDD) – House members have expressed support for the renewed anti-illegal drugs campaign of the Philippine National Police (PNP) dubbed “Oplan Double Barrel: Reloaded,” but sought enough safeguards to prevent abuses which marked the agency’s earlier operations.
Members of the House committee on public order and safety chaired by Rep. Romeo Acop (2nd District, Antipolo City) expressed their support for the PNP’s enhanced anti-illegal drugs campaign and called for safeguards against its abuses during a recent briefing conducted by police officials led by PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on the accomplishments of “Double Barrel,” “Double Barrel Alpha,” and the recently-formulated “Double Barrel Reloaded,” which the PNP said have gained headway in the drive against illegal drugs.
Rep. Frederick Siao (Lone District, Iligan City) lauded the Duterte administration and the PNP for the war against drugs. He, however, asked Dela Rosa to cleanse the organization of scalawags, especially those directly engaged in the battle against the drug menace.
On the so-called “rogue cops” who were sent to Basilan, Siao wondered why they were assigned to Basilan instead of suspending or dismissing them from the service.
Dela Rosa replied that it is not easy to dismiss police officers from the service, so sending them to Basilan was the way to uproot them from their comfort zone.
Because of the scalawags in the PNP, Dela Rosa said the vetting process used in screening members of the anti-drugs campaign is now very strict. He stressed that a thorough background investigation and interview are being conducted on police officers prior to inclusion in the anti-drugs campaign. A counter-intelligence task force has also been created to monitor the anti-illegal drugs operations, said Dela Rosa.
Rep. Rozzano Rufino Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa City) said the first “Oplan Double Barrel” was stopped because of some abuses and mistakes, and expressed hope that under the “Oplan Double Barrel: Reloaded,” such mistakes have been corrected.
Biazon, a staunch anti-illegal drugs advocate, said “Double Barrel” is not a product of strategy arrived at by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) nor of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), but merely a PNP creation.
Biazon asked the PNP chief where the “Double Barrel: Reloaded” fits in the national strategy of the national government.
He also expressed concern over Executive Order No. 15, creating an inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs and anti-illegal drug task force, citing Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Law that mandates the Dangerous Drugs Board as the policy-making body and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as the implementing arm.
Biazon, however, pointed out that EO 15 places PDEA as chair and DDB as mere member.
Dela Rosa replied that since the PNP has been very aggressive in its war against drugs, it failed to realize that it should have been only the good police officers who should have been involved in the anti-drugs campaign.
Dela Rosa said the PNP is now more careful in the selection of personnel who will be included in the drugs campaign and will ensure the abuses and mistakes in the previous anti-illegal drugs operation will not be repeated.
Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr. (3rd District, Negros Oriental) commended President Duterte and Dela Rosa for their sincerity in the war against drugs, but stressed the need to clean the ranks of the PNP and the PDEA of scalawags in order to sustain the initial success of the anti-drugs operations.
Teves also sought the close coordination and cooperation of the PNP for an out-patient community-based rehabilitation program, which is being implemented in his district. He lamented that the PNP seldom turns over drug dependents for rehabilitation.
Acop asked the PNP about the reasons for the changes in the name of its anti-drugs program.
PNP Director for Operations Camilo Pancratius Cascolan explained that due to the police’s suspension of its war against drugs for more than a month, there is need to reinvigorate the campaign and come up with better initiatives and plans. He further said the program “is like loading the second time around,” hence the “Double Barrel: Reloaded.”
Rep. Henry Oaminal (2nd District, Misamis Occidental) commended the PNP in the fight against illegal drugs and welcomed the resumption of the program.
Oaminal urged his colleagues to fully support the PNP and expressed hope the legal assistance being provided to the police officers carrying out the anti-drugs operations is wide and strong enough down to the local level.
Oaminal, chairman of the House sub-committee on correctional reforms, also asked Dela Rosa whether the police operatives would still coordinate with a barangay captain or mayor who is involved in illegal drugs.
Dela Rosa said that if the barangay captain or mayor is identified with the illegal drugs or is a drug lord himself, the police officers could tap the services of other well-meaning barangay or local officials, stressing that the local police chief is furnished a list of persons in his area of jurisdiction who are involved in drugs.
On the legal support for PNP personnel involved in the anti-illegal drugs campaign, Dela Rosa admitted that the organization is not so legally equipped, pointing out that there is only one lawyer assigned to the law enforcement group. The PNP is in the process of recruiting 100 lawyers to join its legal service, he said.
Rep. Pedro Acharon (1st District, South Cotabato and General Santos City), chairman of the committee on local government, praised Dela Rosa for the war against illegal drugs and appealed to his fellow representatives to support the “Double Barrel: Reloaded” project.
Acharon raised concerns on the manpower of the PNP in view of the magnitude of the drugs problem. He said there is need to increase the PNP budget and fast-track the hiring of additional personnel.
Rep. Gary Alejano (Partylist, MAGDALO) asked Dela Rosa to provide accurate and updated data on the number of drug addicts in the country because of conflicting data being presented by government agencies. Such data is crucial in meeting PNP objectives, said Alejano.
Alejano also asked the PNP Chief to provide the House committee with spot reports on the 2,602 persons killed during the PNP operations related to drugs, including their criminal records, inventory of guns used by alleged criminals, and where the said guns are kept, so the committee can use these information in preparing its report.
Deputy Speaker ad Cebu Third District Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia stressed that the accuracy of the data is crucial in the fight against illegal drugs.
Rep. Jonas Cortes (6th District, Cebu) informed Dela Rosa about a community-based recovery program being conducted by a civic organization and which he hopes could be replicated throughout the country.
Cortes explained the program has four phases: assessment; intervention; skills training; and reintegration. It also creates synergy among the law enforcement, church, barangay, and other sectors of society, said Cortes.
Rep. Horacio Suansing, Jr. (2nd District, Sultan Kudarat), a committee vice chairman, commended Dela Rosa for the “Double Barrel: Reloaded” program, saying it is bloodless and a kinder operation than the previous one. It is also well-received by the Filipino people, he added.
Reps. Gus Tambunting (2nd District, Paranaque City), WinnieCastelo (2nd District, Quezon City), and Joseph Bernos (Lone District, Abra), also lauded the PNP’s performance in its anti-drugs campaign. CONGRESS / MCAG