PNP to stay within ambits of law in war on drugs in 2019 -- Albayalde

January 02, 2019

HE made a promise to strictly uphold equal and absolute rights for all amid their all-out war against crime and drugs in 2018 and the vow will stick this year, Philippine National Police chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said.

The PNP chief assured the citizenry that police nationwide are under strict orders to strictly observe human rights amid their continuing crackdown versus crime and drugs which since July 2016 has left over 5,000 armed drug traffickers dead in gunfights with officers.

The country’s top cop stressed  that respect for human rights is deeply embedded in the PNP doctrine, systems and procedures and remains the fundamental framework of their rules of engagement or the Police Operational Procedures.

He made the statement amid President Duterte’s renewed warning to fight drugs with more violence.’ The former Davao City mayor known for his fiery speeches said he will be harsh and ‘there might be widespread violence’ as the police and the military battle drug traffickers in the country in the remaining more than three years of his presidency.

Gen. Albayalde maintained that President Duterte has been saying this since the beginning of his term but he said “there was no widespread violence actually.”

“The President already repeatedly said that, but we perform our duties in accordance with the law. He didn’t say anything about going above the law. Probably, it’s just a part of him and how he says things... When you talk to the President, he always gives this directive of you do your job or you perform your duties within the ambit of the law,” he said.

The PNP chief maintained that the PNP ‘will remain steadfast and committed to our advocacy for human rights as foundation of justice and peace. It is ingrained in our institutional policy and deeply-rooted through our doctrine and mandate.”

To institutionalize human rights advocacy, the PNP chief said  human rights training modules form part of the standard program of instruction in all mandatory and specialized in-service training courses from basic recruit course to qualifying courses for senior officers.

In addition to mandatory training, the PNP is also conducting a 15-day specialized Human Rights Officers’ Course which is the first advance course on human rights among police agencies in Asia, he said.

In the latest RealNumbers PH Year 2 forum, officials said that from July 1, 2016 to last October 31, a total of 4,999 armed drug dealers have been killed in gunbattles with government law enforcement agents as officials maintained the suspects were slain after opting to shoot it out with officers to escape arrest.

Another 161,584 known drug personalities were also arrested as a result of 113,570 anti-narcotics operations which include the conduct of buy-bust operations, service of search warrants and other interdiction operations during the period in review.

The figures were released during a Real Numbers PH Year 2 forum at Camp Crame presided over by Assistant Secretary Marie B. Rafael of the Presidential Communications Office, Philippine National Police spokesman, Chief Superintendent Benigno B. Durana Jr. and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency spokesperson, Director Derrick Arnold C. Carreon.

During the period, the Duterte government also dismantled 258 secret drug dens and 13 clandestine shabu laboratories; declared as ‘drug-cleared’ 8,935 out of the country’s total 42,044 barangays; and arrested 600 government workers involved in illegal drug trafficking and abuse  broken down into 278 government employees, 257 elected officials and 65 uniformed personnel.

The period also saw the dismissal from the government service of 287 law enforcement agents for drug use and 130 others for other drug-related offenses.

It also saw the confiscation of P25.06 billion worth of dangerous drugs including P18.31 billion worth of shabu; the rescue of 1,820 children involved in illegal drug activities; and the surrender of 292,108 drug users from the government recovery and wellness program with 142,280 of them patients who graduated from PNP-initiated drug treatment programs.

Durana emphasized that the slain suspects were killed by policemen and other law enforcement agents who were forced to defend themselves from real armed threat posed by the suspects.

He also said over 2,000 so-called ‘deaths under investigation’ have turned out to be drug-related killings involving suspected drug personalities who were killed by their fellow drug dealers due to various motives including ‘double-cross’ or upon suspicions they were working as government informants.

The PNP spokesman also said  around 1,800 police personnel are under surveillance for various illegal activities but not necessarily due to drugs.  Durana said that last year alone, agents of the PNP Counter-Intelligence Task Force headed by Senior Supt. Romeo M. Caramat Jr. have already shot dead 9 active policemen during buy-bust operations.

“There is no place for scalawags especially those involved in illegal drugs in our organization,” he said.

For his part, Carreon expressed confidence that at the rate they are ‘clearing’ barangays, they would be able to declare as ‘drug-cleared the remaining 23,161 others which are yet to be freed from drug-influence.

“Kaya naman po provided that all our stakeholders will help us in preventing the resurgence of drugs in all concerned areas,” he said.