Under orders from the president, the police are cleaning a very dirty house through very drastic means.
Manila, Philippines – Last Sunday, during a joint command conference with police and the military, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the dissolution of all anti-drug units in the police force. This follows the scandalous murder of a South Korean business man allegedly committed within the Philippine National Police (PNP) Headquarters last October 2016. Embarrassed, the president ordered an internal cleansing of the PNP.
On January 30, 2017, PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa ordered all police units to stop anti-illegal drug operations nationwide while the organization (PNP) focuses on internal cleansing. The announcement came hours after the president ordered the dismantling of anti-illegal drug units in the PNP.
Senior Superintendent Bert Ferro of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) confirmed that the PNP Chief’s announcement meant that all anti-illegal drug operations would be stopped at the local level. The AIDG was also ordered abolished by President Duterte.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will now be the only government agency tasked to apprehend illegal drugs and dealers. The president intends to create a narcotics police unit to be placed under the command of the PDEA, and who will be tasked to flush out police who are involved in the illegal drug trade.
In a press conference on the same day, Dela Rosa was asked if the order from the president meant that discipline in the PNP was breaking down. He answered: “We must admit, because crime is happening within our ranks.”
He also admitted that the leadership had only begun to seriously consider the existence of lawless elements in the police force and to consider the need to weed them out: “ngayon lang pinag-isipan yan. We were doing well. We presumed regularity.” (We only considered this now. We were doing well. We presumed regularity.)
Over the weekend Dela Rosa offered to resign as the Chief of the PNP, but this was rejected by the president, who instead intends for PNP Chief Dela Rosa to clean up the institution and straighten out the ranks.
The order may be seen as an attempt to earn respite from all the controversies surrounding the administration’s war on drugs, a campaign heavily criticized by various sectors and international organizations.
Let’s hope the PNP’s house cleaning puts an end to alleged extra judicial killings or show who are the real perpetrators of the killings.