PNP sus­pends 'Oplan Dou­ble Bar­rel' anew

Sun.Star Pampanga - - NATION! -

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DAY af­ter Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte has des­ig­nated the Philip­pine Drug En­force­ment Agency (Pdea) as the "sole agency" in charge of the war on drugs, the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP) on Thursday sus­pended anew the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Oplan Dou­ble Bar­rel.

PNP deputy spokesper­son Su­per­in­ten­dent Vimelee Madrid said the sus­pen­sion was in ad­her­ence to the Pres­i­dent's or­der on Thursday.

Oplan Dou­ble Bar­rel is the PNP's cam­paign high-value drug tar­gets.

Duterte, in a mem­o­ran­dum signed on Oc­to­ber 10, tasked the PDEA to con­duct anti-il­le­gal drug op­er­a­tions "against all those who di­rectly or in­di­rectly, and in what­ever man­ner or ca­pac­ity, are in­volved in or con­nected with il­le­gal dr ugs."

The Pres­i­dent in­structed the PNP, Na­tional Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (NBI) and other agen­cies in­volved in drug war to just re­lay in­for­ma­tion re­lated to the anti-drug cam­paign to PDEA.

He also in­structed the PNP to merely main­tain po­lice vis­i­bil­ity "as a de­ter­rent to il­le­gal drug ac­tiv­i­ties."

Madrid said po­lice of­fi­cers may still make ar­rests if the il­le­gal drug trans­ac­tion is hap­pen­ing in front of them.

"Kung ang [if the] sit­u­a­tion war­rants war­rant­less ar­rest, we can take ef­fect the ar­rest im­me­di­ately. If the crime is be­ing com­mit­ted in our pres­ence and we have per­sonal knowl­edge that a crime is be­ing com­mit­ted or is about to be com­mit­ted we will ef­fect the ar­rest," Madrid said.

"We will still up­hold the law. The use, deal­ing, the buy­ing of il­le­gal drugs is pun­ish­able by law so we still man­dated to ar­rest any­time," she added.

Last Jan­uary, Duterte de­tached the PNP from the war on drugs fol­low­ing the death of Korean busi­ness­man Jee Ick-joo al­legedly in the hands of the po­lice­men, in­side the PNP head­quar­ters in Camp Crame, Que­zon City.

He or­dered the PNP, which he de­scribed as "cor­rupt to the core," to con­duct in­ter­nal cleans­ing and re­move erring per­son­nel from the servi ce.

Dela Rosa im­me­di­ately dis­man­tled the PNP Anti-Il­le­gal Drugs Group and cre­ated the Po­lice Drug En­force­ment Group (PDEG), which con­sists of po­lice of­fi­cers who un­der­went in­tense screen­ing to en­sure they are de­serv­ing of the job.

In March, the PNP an­nounced the re­ac­ti­va­tion of the Oplan Dou­ble Bar­rel and promised that it would have been "less bloody." But the po­lice drug war op­er­a­tions have killed dozens of more sus­pects, in­clud­ing mi­nors.

De­spite the lat­est sus­pen­sion of the Oplan Dou­ble Bar­rel, PNP spokesper­son Dionardo Car­los said the PDEG will re­main as a unit.

He said the PDEG will con­tinue with in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing and will for­ward and co­or­di­nate to the PDEA all the data they needed in line with the anti-il­le­gal drugs op­er­a­tions.

Mala­cañang clar­i­fied on Thursday that del­e­gat­ing PDEA as the sole agency in charge of the war on drugs does not mean that there was a fail­ure in im­ple­men­ta­tion of the gov­ern­ment's cam­paign against il­licit drugs.

Pres­i­den­tial Spokesper­son Ernesto Abella said the Pres­i­dent's lat­est di­rec­tive sim­ply meant that there was "sub­stan­tial ad­vances" on the ad­min­is­tra­tion's drug crack­down as the street dis­tri­bu­tion of narcotics al­ready "de­graded."

"It's not a ques­tion of fail­ure; it's a ques­tion of more ef­fec­tiv­ity, op­ti­miz­ing the ef­forts, and they are widen­ing the scope of re­spon­si­bil­ity," Abella said in a press con­fer­ence.

"What hap­pened is the street dis­tri­bu­tion of net­works of drugs lords al­ready de­graded so we now tar­get higher ech­e­lons of the syn­di­cates, as well as their pro­tec­tors in gov­ern­ment," he added.

Abella said the PDEA would now el­e­vate the cam­paign against il­le­gal drugs as it has widened its scope.

"PDEA will now bring pol­icy fo­cus, ex­pert per­for­mance stan­dards, high-level co­or­di­na­tion of over­sight, and cen­tral­ized in­tel­li­gence col­lec­tion to the war on drugs," the pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son said.

"PDEA will also lead in the es­tab­lish­ing a broad anti-drug coali­tion, work­ing with agen­cies – LGUs (lo­cal gov­ern­ment units), civil so­ci­ety, the Church, busi­ness, academe, and me­dia to push pre­ven­tion and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ini­tia­tives," he added.

Duterte's drug war has sparked out­rage lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally fol­low­ing the deaths of thou­sands of sus­pected drug of­fend­ers, in­clud­ing some mi­nors since he as­sumed of­fice in 2016.

(Third Anne Per­alta-Malonzo and Ruth Abbey Gita/ SunS­tar Philip­pines)

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