Shedding blood in secret
When it comes to the government’s anti-drug campaign, it seems there are trust issues that need to be resolved on the part of both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Just as President Rodrigo Duterte declared that he will once again return the reins of his administration’s war on drugs to the PNP, out came footage of police executing a drug suspect in one of the barangays in Tondo, Manila, that was shown to the public by the British news agency Reuters.
Duterte and PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s loyalists will cry sabotage and claim that it was handled by their “yellow” critics, but included in the footage was a policeman who turned off one of the closed-circuit TV cameras (CCTV) to prevent recording of their operation that ended up with three of the drug suspects being “dead on arrival” at the nearest hospital.
That the operation supposedly occurred just as President Duterte declared the transfer of the anti-drug campaign to the PDEA showed that the PNP can afford to bend the rules and directives of their superiors — in this case, the President himself — if only to show something for their efforts and be recognized as “doing their jobs.”
If by doing their jobs this means executing defenseless, hapless drug suspects, then the PNP is doing quite a heck of a job based on the rising death toll. And despite Dela Rosa’s warnings that vigilantes are roaming the streets and executing drug suspects to blacken the PNP’s reputation, not a single one of these vigilantes had ever been caught.
If there is one suspected vigilante caught, he may likely end up dead to prevent him from ratting on his boss. Sadly, not even the PDEA is doing a fine job in the war against drugs if a Mandaue City–based couple’s claim that they were victimized by 20 PDEA agents is to be believed.
In their complaint filed at the Ombudsman-Visayas, Leo and Jeanette Malingin claimed that the PDEA agents staged a drug raid at their home and made off with P7 million worth of cash and valuables at past 3 a.m. last July 10.
If it’s not summary execution of drug suspects, then it’s extortion especially if the targets have more than P1 million in cash and valuables. Is there any law enforcement agency the public can trust to wage a more effective and zero corrupt campaign against illegal drugs?
Apparently none, and the Senate thinks the same way as they realigned the multimillion budget for Project Double Barrel to fund the housing of police personnel and soldiers and officials, if only to ensure that the military and police won’t protest against the budget realignment.
We hope their housing won’t be co-opted anew by militant urban poor groups looking for free housing just like what happened with the Kadamay group in Bulacan province. But let’s ask again: Is the PNP ready and capable of waging a war against illegal drug syndicates without allowing some in their ranks to circumvent due process and start executing drug suspects as they please?
There is no question that the PNP has the numbers to wage that war, but do they have the personnel who can wage that war without getting their hands and themselves soaked with the blood of the drug suspects?
If not, then no amount of body cameras can prevent these errant police officers from murdering drug suspects while making sure that the cameras are turned off as they shed blood in secret.
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