By Argyll Cyrus Geducos and Martin Sadongdong
President Duterte will meet top security officials on Wednesday for a command conference to address criminality in the country and vowed to call up local government officials within this month if their respective localities are deemed areas with critical security concerns such as illegal drugs.
Duterte said he wants officials of local government units (LGUs) to be answerable to him and explain the criminality and illegal drugs situation in their respective areas.
Earlier, the President announced he would conduct a command conference, saying “radical changes” were due to be implemented amid the spate of crimes and the continuous operations of illegal drugs syndicates in the country.
Yesterday, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde made it clear that he will follow whatever is the directive of the President subsequent to the discussions with top security officials on June 13. The command conference was originally set today, but was moved Wednesday.
Among the expected issues to be tackled is the re-organization of the 190,000-strong national police organization which Duterte expects to be completed by year-end.
Director-General Albayalde said that he would obey Duterte’s command to fully cleanse their ranks of police misfits and scalawags, although he insisted that the internal cleansing program they are implementing “has so far been successful.”
“Because of our internal cleansing operations, the President saw that there is really a need to cleanse our ranks. We’ve been arresting and presenting to the public rogue cops who are involved in illegal drugs, extortion, kidnapping, carnapping and other illegal activities,” Albayalde said.
However, he reiterated that the police scalawags they have been arresting are but a small portion of their total force.
This was echoed by Senior Superintendent Benigno Durana Jr., PNP spokesperson, who added that the PNP will not stop until the last rogue cop “is out of our ranks.”
Criminality in MM
Also expected to be tackled is the reported spate of criminality particularly in Metro Manila.
Albayalde said he is ready to report to Duterte the “real” situation backed by physical evidence and data.
Last week, the PNP said that there have been social media accounts posting alleged robbery and holdup incidents in Metro Manila to spread fear. The said accounts are now already uner investigation by the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG), Albayalde said.
The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) also disclosed that the crime rate in Metro Manila has decreased although they have yet to release actual data on it.
The last known data was given by former NCRPO director and now chief of Civil Security Group (CSG), Chief Superintendent Camilo Pancratius Cascolan, who said that the crime rate in Metro Manila reached its lowest at 231 cases since the start of the Duterte administration in 2016.
LGU chiefs beware
The President, in a speech in Cebu, said that he is doing his best to clean the country, but he needs the cooperation of local officials.
“Mao na ako na silang tawgon mga official. May command conference unya kinahanglan muistorya sila individually diha (That is why I will call the officials. There’s a command conference later and they’re required to talk individually),” Duterte said.
Duterte reiterated his warning to local officials, particularly the barangay captains, to not involve themselves in illegal drugs as he will be unforgiving.
Duterte also said that local officials who seem to be not doing anything to address the issues in their areas would first have to answer to Interior and Local Government Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año.
Duterte said that they would have to explain within 72 hours why the incidents in their area were all drug-related. He said he will verify their explanations with the intelligence community.
“Pagtan-aw pud nako, mangutana ko sa intelligence community og tinuod ba, moingon, ‘Totoo ‘yan sir,’ (When I see it, I will validate it with the intelligence community. If they say that it’s true), I will suspend or dismiss you administratively,” he warned.