End of Tokhang, Dou­ble Bar­rel

Un­der the pres­i­dent’s new memo, the PDEA was des­ig­nated as the lead agency in the war against il­le­gal drugs

Sun.Star Cebu - - OPINION - ED­DIE BARRITA ed­bar­rita@gmail.com

Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP) Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Ron­ald “Bato” dela Rosa on Thurs­day halted two po­lice anti-drug drives, “Oplan Tokhang” and “Project Dou­ble Bar­rel,” af­ter Pres­i­dent Rody Duterte side­lined the po­lice in the war against il­le­gal drugs.

More than a mil­lion drug users turned them­selves in to au­thor­i­ties un­der Oplan Tokhang, the door-to-door cam­paign to con­vince them to sur­ren­der for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

More than 3,800 drug sus­pects were killed for re­sist­ing the po­lice un­der Project Dou­ble Bar­rel, marked with deadly po­lice sweeps of the slums.

Un­der the pres­i­dent’s new memo, the Philip­pine Drug En­force­ment Agency (PDEA) was des­ig­nated as the lead agency in the war against il­le­gal drugs.

It was be­cause few had been killed in its anti-drug op­er­a­tions. The po­lice are still look­ing into the cases of more than 2,000 oth­ers who have been killed by un­known as­sailants.

As the pres­i­dent said, “There were no deaths, so there would be no en­counter. So bet­ter for you bleed­ing hearts and the me­dia. I hope I will sat­isfy you.”

Bato, PNP’s rare cry­ing chief, who un­abashedly cried in the Se­nate over crit­i­cism of the bru­tal war on drugs, said he was “sad” about the pres­i­dent’s de­ci­sion.

He also doubted the PDEA’s ca­pa­bil­ity to carry out the war on drugs with its 1,700 agents, com­pared with the PNP force of more than 185,000.

Well, fewer per­son­nel trans­lates to fewer op­er­a­tions and per­haps fewer drug sus­pects killed.

Mala­cañang said the des­ig­na­tion of PDEA as lead agency in the war on drugs shows the gov­ern­ment’s shift in the fo­cus of the cam­paign against nar­cotics.

“What hap­pened was the street dis­tri­bu­tion net­works of the drug lords have been de­graded,” pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son Ernesto Abella said.

He said the gov­ern­ment is now tar­get­ing the higher ech­e­lons of the syn­di­cates and their protectors in the gov­ern­ment. Would it still be bloody?

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