‘QUIT NOW OR BE HUNTED’
Police officers with ties to the illegal drug trade should either quit or else be hunted down, the new Police Regional Office (PRO) chief warned yesterday.
“You better stop it now. Hahabulin ko kayo. (I’ll chase you down),” said Chief Supt. Noli Taliño in a speech during yesterday’s turnover ceremony held at the PRO-7 quadrangle in Camp Sergio Osmeña.
Taliño’s appointment by PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa didn’t sit well with Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña who expressed strong reservations on the replacement of Chief Supt. Patrocinio Comendador.
Taliño, the former Special Action Force (SAF) chief, said he will investigate the police officers listed as “protectors” of illegal drugs syndicates in Central Visayas.
Aside from cleaning ranks, Taliño said he will also prioritize securing support from the communities, local governments, and media in eliminating illegal drugs and criminality in the region.
“I was sent here by our President and the PNP chief to implement the programs of the new administration. It’s an enormous job because we need to accomplish several things within a given timeline,” he said in his message to all police officers.
“We will not succeed in our campaign against illegal drugs if there’s one or two policemen who are involved in the trade. What we need to do first is to clean our ranks from scalawags,” he said.
Taliño said he will implement a weekly assessment of the performances of all police chiefs and directors in the cities and provinces in Central Visayas.
He said those who would fail to meet the target will be relieved from their respective posts.
“Pasensyahan na lang tayo. Kasi ako rin yong mananagot sa ating PNP chief kung hindi natin ma-meet yong target. (Let’s bear with each other because I’m also answerable to the PNP chief if I fail to meet the target),” he said.
The new PRO-7 chief arrived at the Camp Sergio Osmeña in Cebu City at 7:45 a.m. yesterday.
He was given welcome honors by police officials in Central Visayas at the PRO-7 quadrangle.
Taliño, 54, was accompanied by his lone daughter who studies at the Ateneo de Manila University but was in Cebu City for a tour.
As an example to other policemen, Taliño underwent drug testing along with 300 officials of PRO-7. He tested negative for illegal drugs.
During the turnover of command, Taliño echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s program to eradicate illegal drugs, criminality, and corruption in just three to six months.
He said Duterte’s plans can only be achieved if all sectors of government, including ordinary citizens, cooperate with each other.
“This is a shared responsibility. And since we were given just three to six months to address the three primordial problems in our society, we shall hit the ground running starting today,” Taliño said.
The native of Pangasinan said he knew how illegal drug syndicates operate because he was assigned with the narcotics command in the early 1990s.
Reports of police officers in Central Visayas who have been coddling drug lords also didn’t escape Taliño’s warning.
Bread and butter
“Are there police officers in the region who are involved in illegal drugs? I saw our friends from the media nod. If there are, this is my advice to you: You better stop it now. And when I say now, ngayon, karon, itigil nyo na,” said Taliño while raising his voice.
“If you love your family and the police service, you stop it now. I and good police officers will run after you. The PNP is our bread and butter so we must love it,” he added.
Any policeman who wants to be spared from his wrath, Taliño said, may approach him openly and admit their involvement in illegal drugs.
Taliño is better known as the combat-tested officer-in-charge of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force who gave a moving eulogy for the 44 SAF personnel who died in the botched operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015.
Last year, he took over the helm of the elite police unit after SAF commander Police Director Getulio Napeñas was relieved of his post pending an inquiry into the incident.
Taliño said he will meet with the governors and mayors in Central Visayas to discuss how they could implement the anti-illegal drug campaign of the PNP together.
He said the media can help educate the public as well as amplify the programs of the PNP.
Taliño acknowledged Comendador’s efforts which resulted in the deaths of suspected drug lords Rowen “Yawa” Secretaria and Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz.
Comendador, who served as PRO-7 chief for almost three months, said he did his best to make the community safer.
“It will be the people of Central Visayas who can say whether or not I have served them well,” he said.
Mayor Osmeña said Comendador’s relief was ill-timed since it occurred just as the anti-drug campaign in Cebu had produced positive results.
“In three months, the top three drug lords of Cebu province, Cebu City, Bohol and Negros were neutralized. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s affecting me because I put my heart into this and now we’re being dislocated,” he said.
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