PNP to prioritize human rights in ‘chilling’ drug war

Oscar D. Albayalde

POLICE are under orders to fully pursue the government’s war on drugs particularly focusing on High-Value Targets (HVT) while taking care to protect human rights the Philippine National Police spokesman said yesterday.

“Let me assure the public that the PNP will continue waging a massive crackdown against illegal drug trafficking and abuse in accordance with our operational procedures and with utmost respect for human rights. That’s the policy,” said Police Colonel Bernard M. Banac after President Duterte said that the anti-drug crackdown in the remaining three years of his presidency will be more “chilling” and “bloody”.

According to Banac, PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde has emphasized the need to go after HVTs specifically drug lords and manufacturers in compliance to the presidential directive.

“Definitely, our campaign will be more intense but with respect for human rights. It’s the reason why all our anti-narcotics officers are required to undergo regular lectures on the Police Operational Procedures, that’s why many of our officers are now wearing body cameras,” the official said.

Banac, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency spokesman Director Derrick Arnold C. Carreon and Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Rafael-Banaag last Thursday presented the latest RealNumbers PH figures.

The latest government figures showed that from July 1, 2016 to last January 31, government agents led by the PNP, the PDEA and the National Bureau of Investigation have conducted a total of 119,841 anti-narcotics operations which led to the arrest of 170,689 drug offenders and the death of 5,176 armed drug suspects during shootout with undercover officers.

The period also saw the confiscation of P25.94 billion worth of dangerous drugs of which P19.14 billion are shabu, the dismantling of 287 secret drug dens and 14 clandestine shabu laboratories and storage facilities; the arrest of 627 government workers including 295 government employees, 263 elected officials and 69 uniformed personnel; and the rescue of 2,016 children in illegal drug activities, 1,089 of them described as “pushers”, 533 for possession of dangerous drugs, 271 for using drugs and 105 others for either visiting, helping maintain or acting as an employee of a drug dive.

Carreon said during the same period, 11,080 of the country’s total 42,044 barangays have been already declared as “drug-cleared” with very high hopes that the remaining 21,974 other barangays will be cleared before the end of the Duterte administration.

They likewise backed President Duterte’s estimate that drug users in the country had reached to around seven to eight million citing the Commander-in-Chief’s wide access of information.

Banac explained that the number of users vary almost every day since there are the so-called “mild, moderate and severe” drug users. 

Banac said that they take the President’s latest figures as a “decision-making tool for us to perform more.”