Do not ex­clude the po­lice, please

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOPNINION -

NOW that the pres­i­dent has des­ig­nated the Philip­pine Drug En­force­ment Agency (PDEA) as the sole agency in charge of the war on drugs, does that mean that the po­lice, the Na­tional Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (NBI) and all other law en­force­ment agen­cies are no longer al­lowed to do any­thing that would have helped win that war other than to fold their ar ms?

For ex­am­ple, if the Bu­reau of Cus­toms again stum­bles on a huge ship­ment of shabu pass­ing through their ex­press lane, should they al­low the con­tra­band to leave the cus­toms zone while wait­ing for the PDEA ar­rive?

If a po­lice­man wit­nesses a drug deal oc­cur­ring, should he just let the par­ties be be­cause he is barred by Pres­i­dent Duterte’s mem­o­ran­dum from in­ter­ven­ing?

This is a mis­con­cep­tion that should be ad­dressed. Duterte did not mean to tie the hands of law­men or to make them in­utile in the fight against drugs. Once a law­man, al­ways a law­man. If a crime is be­ing or has been com­mit­ted in his pres­ence, he should ar­rest the per­pe­tra­tor, re­gard­less of the na­ture of the of­fense. In fact, even civil­ians can and should do that.

What the pres­i­dent ac­tu­ally did was to pro­hibit the po­lice from launch­ing their own op­er­a­tions against the nar­cotics trade. In other words, they have been to be re­ac­tive in­stead of proac­tive. The de­ci­sion has a huge im­pact on the drugs war and it is un­for­tu­nate that it has come to that.

The pres­i­dent’s de­ci­sion is ob­vi­ously re­lated to the grow­ing com­plaints of abuses al­legedly com­mit­ted by po­lice­men while wag­ing the nar­cotics war. That many sus­pects had died in the hands of po­lice­men is un­de­ni­able. Some of the vic­tims were young and in a num­ber of cases, the signs that they were sum­mar­ily ex­e­cuted were ev­i­dent.

There are rogue cops, that is pretty ob­vi­ous, too but they’re an in­signif­i­cant mi­nor­ity. They prob­a­bly aren’t even nat­u­rally bad but sim­ply mis­guided, some­thing that the pres­i­dent him­self may be partly re­spon­si­ble for be­cause of cer­tain state­ments that he made in the past that seemed to en­cour­age the po­lice not to take any pris­on­ers.

But as Se­nior Supt. Joel Do­ria has shown, it is pos­si­ble to run af­ter the drug merchants just as ef­fec­tively with­out hav­ing to kill them. The se­cret is in giv­ing clear di­rec­tions to the men on the field to avoid any mis­con­cep­tion on the real na­ture of their job.

If the pres­i­dent be­lieves that the plunge in his sat­is­fac­tion rat­ings is caused by al­le­ga­tions of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings, he is not far off the mark. But his tak­ing the po­lice out of the anti-drug op­er­a­tions is an over­re­ac­tion that could ad­versely af­fect the achieve­ment of a drugs-free Philip­pines that he en­vi­sioned to be his legacy to the na­tion.

The drugs prob­lem is a very se­ri­ous one and com­bat­ting it re­quires that all hands be on board. Don’t ex­clude the po­lice, Mr. Pres­i­dent. Just re­ori­ent them

.---Frank Mali­long

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