By Aaron Recuenco
The imposition of the death penalty for drug-related offenses and corruption is a game changer in the government’s effort to run after plunderers and bigwigs in the illegal drugs trade in the country, the Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership said Tuesday.
PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said they will be supporting the legislative agenda of President Duterte who called on Congress during his Monday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) to pass the law imposing death penalty on drugs and corruption.
“The PNP fully supports the legislative agenda of the national government for effective legislation that will add more teeth to the crusade against crime, drugs and corruption, particularly by imposing capital punishment for drug-related heinous crime and plunder, among others,” said Albayalde.
“I firmly believe that the deterrent effect of the certainty of punishment will be a game changer in our continuing campaign against illegal drugs, heinous crime, and corruption, particularly against drug traffickers, smugglers, and peddlers of illegal drugs,” he said.
Albayalde said he shares the frustration of the President on the issue of corruption that also affects the government’s aggressive campaign against illegal drugs as drug money is flowing from drug lords to corrupt law enforcers and members of the judiciary.
“Our justice system is not perfect. If it is already flawless, then I believe the death penalty can be restored,” Albayalde earlier said.
“It is hard to convict even one person if he turns out to be innocent. It’s really painful,” he added.
Albayalde said he will include in the PNP recommendation the significant improvement in the judiciary before the death penalty is imposed in the country.
“That will be part of our recommendations also. We should not just implement something when we have problems with some agencies. What is important is we really convict those people who are really guilty,” said Albayalde.
The PNP has experienced frustrations in the campaign against illegal drugs brought mainly by corruption using drug money.
In 2013, the Manila Bulletin reported that the PNP has only seven percent conviction rate in all the drug charges it filed.
This prompted then PNP chief Alan Purisima to order an intensive review of all the drug charges filed and to come up with recommendations to improve the PNP’s conviction rate.
Based on the initial findings, drug charges are usually being junked due to the lousy preparation of charges that include non-observance of protocols in handling pieces of evidence, deliberate snub of policemen to attend court hearings, and unintentional failure to attend the court hearing of policemen due to lack of support from the PNP that ranges from transportation and food allowances.
In 2017, the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group which replaced the Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF) claimed that it gained 72 percent conviction rate.
But the data to which it based its conviction rate is from 2003 to 2016.
The AIDG was disbanded over the involvement of some of its men in the kidnap-slay of South Korean executive Jee Ick Joo who was kidnapped in his house in Pampanga under the guise of anti-drugs operations and was strangled to death right inside the PNP Headquarters at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
After his death, the AIDG operatives involved demanded P5 million ransom from his wife who in turn reported the matter to the media which led to the filing of charges against at least four cops, including an official with a rank of lieutenant colonel.