MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday vowed a “strong finish” against illegal drugs in the remaining eight months of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s term.
At the weekly ‘virtual’ press conference of the National Task Force to End Local Communists Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), PNP Directorate for Operation Chief, Major General Rhodel Sermonia, also emphasized the need to protect the indigenous people (IP) from criminal activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), including the illegal cultivation of marijuana in their communities.
Sermonia said PNP Chief, General Guillermo Eleazar, has directed the police to give “special attention” to IPs’ plight as they are very vulnerable to the scourge of the Communist Terrorists Groups (CTG).
“CPP-NPA ay wala ng prinsipyong pinaglalaban ngayon (has no principles being fought today), unlike years or decades ago. They are more into criminal activities ngayon, para sila ay magka-pera (now, to earn money),” Sermonia said.
He said Eleazar made strict instructions to set up an IP Desk in the regions and municipal police headquarters or stations, for all IPs who need police assistance and protection.
Sermonia specifically gave importance to the plight of many IPs as the country observed the commemoration of the National Indigenous People’s Month and the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act or the IPRA Law.
“Giving protection to our indigenous folks is very relevant to our mandate in the PNP to fight illegal drugs and even more relevant today as we talk about Indigenous People’s rights,” Sermonia said.
He added that the PNP “understand that in clearing indigenous communities of this illegal drugs menace, we have to incorporate in our response the help of other agencies that have a special understanding of their culture and their social and economic activities that will be affected if we are to push for the clearing of their communities of illegal drugs.”
“This is true as we all know there are places where indigenous people live that are identified as the source of narcotic products—marijuana plantation, particularly,” Sermonia said.
Strong, decisive finish
Sermonia said the PNP is bent on a “strong finish” against illegal drugs, citing continuous police operations that resulted in the seizure of voluminous amounts of illegal drugs worth millions and even billions of pesos.
“We will deliver a strong finish in the drug war. If we will have a decisive victory against communist insurgents, we will have a strong finish with a happy ending in the drug war,” Sermonia said.
He said their goal can be achieved with the help of everyone just in time when Duterte will end his term in June next year.
The drive against “demand and supply reduction” approach in illegal drugs, Sermonia said, is in line with PNP goals as outlined by Duterte himself — good governance and better services — that illegal drugs dependent be treated and drug-peddlers be jailed and punished.
“Sa PNP po, umiikot sa dalawang tactical approach ang basehan ng pamantayan natin sa paglaban sa illegal drugs ((In the PNP, our basis of war against depends on two tactical approaches). This is supply reduction, which basically manifest into anti-illegal drugs operations — mga (the) buy bust operation, neutralization ng mga sindikato sa illegal drug (syndicates). Demand reduction, which basically redounds into the operationalization of community relations program in partnership with different government agencies and non-government organizations,” he explained.
He said the Barangay Anti-Drug Advisory Council (BADAC), which was hampered by the pandemic, will have to be reactivated to boost the fight against illegal drugs.
“We will have them (BADAC) work and make it operational again, with the help of advocacies’ group,” Sermonia said referring to the Coalition of Lingkod Bayan Advocacy Group now working with the Duterte Legacy Barangayanihan Caravan, showcasing the various projects and programs delivered by the Administration to the people, including the war on drugs.
BADAC, he added, is a very important part of fighting illegal drugs, as it identifies the ‘drug users and pushers in every community.
He said it also handles the recovery and wellness program for former drug-dependents who were treated, including the giving of ‘skills training” for them to go back to normalcy and be accepted by their community.
“I know and I am confident that we can have a strong finish against illegal drugs, same as our fight against communist terrorism, until the President finishes his term. Ang Tapang at malasakit ng ating Pangulo ay ramdam na ng ating mga kababayan, kaya may happy ending tayo (The courage and concern of our President is already felt by our countrymen, so we have a happy ending),” he said.
He also warned policemen who are involved in illegal drugs.
“Kapag ikaw pulis ka, sumangkot sa illegal drugs, tapos na pagiging pulis mo (If you are a policeman who are involved in illegal drugs, you’re done as policeman). You are now subject of the PNP manhunt and interdiction operations.” (PNA)