BATAAN, Philippines – The new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday, July 8, advised local chief executives involved in the illegal drug trade to ready their arms and bullets for the “war” ahead.
At a press conference at Camp Cirilo Tolentino, Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the police was ready to wage war against politicians, particularly local chief executives with links to illegal drugs as part of the new administration’s goal of stopping – or at least suppressing – corruption, criminality, and illegal drugs within 6 months.
“I hope na nag-aarmas na ‘yun ng husto… nag imbak na [sila] ng maraming bala. Giyerahin natin ‘yun. There’s no [other] way para matapos ‘yang problema natin (I hope they’ve armed themselves enough, stored enough bullets. We’ll wage war against them. There’s no other way to end our problems),” said Dela Rosa, who on Friday graced the ribbon-cutting of a new reformation center in Limay town.
In Balanga City, Dela Rosa also led the ceremonial presentation of some 600 drug users and pushers who have turned themselves over to police for “reformation.”
Barely a week after President Rodrigo Duterte took his oath of office, the PNP has been relentless in targeting drug pushers and users nationwide. In Bataan, the provincial police force implemented its own version of “Oplan Tukhang,” an anti-drugs operation that Dela Rosa himself created when he was chief of the Davao City police office.
The operation involves police personnel literally knocking on the doors of identified drug personalities to encourage them to end their criminal ways. Tuktok means “to knock” in Bisaya while hangyo means “to convince” or “to ask.”
Earlier this week, Duterte himself named 5 retired and active police generals with supposed links to illegal drugs operations in the country. One of those former officials, retired deputy director general Marcelo Garbo, is supposedly the protector of two drug lords based in Luzon and the Visayas.
There are at least 23 local chief executives in Duterte’s list, said Dela Rosa. It will be up to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to handle the supposedly erring mayors, he added.
“Don’t worry, I didn’t see any mayors from Bataan on the list,” quipped Dela Rosa, who was joined by local chief executives from the province and their police chiefs in a closed-door Command Conference in Camp Tolentino after the press briefing.
The Central Luzon police office has recorded more than 3,000 self-confessed drug users since July 1, or when Dela Rosa officially took over the 160,000-strong PNP. The regional police office has jurisdiction over the provinces of Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales.