PNP wants Robredo to focus on advocacy, rehab

Published November 12, 2019, 12:13 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Aaron Recuenco

The Philippine National Police (PNP) wants Vice President Leni Robredo to focus more on advocacy and rehabilitation of drugs personality as it admitted that these lacked focus in the government’s anti- illegal drugs campaign.

(MANILA BULLETIN)
Philippine National Police (MANILA BULLETIN)

Advocacy focuses on measures to discourage people from using drugs while rehabilitation is on the assistance given to those who are hooked on drugs for them to return to normal life and become better members of the society, according to Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, PNP officer-in-charge.

“On our part, the PNP has very restrictive mandate. We are purely on law enforcement aspect like buy-bust operations or service of arrest and search warrants,” said Gamboa.

“While we have participation on advocacy and rehabilitation and wellness, ours is really on law enforcement,” he added.

Gamboa made the statement after Robredo stated that she wanted to prevent unnecessary killings during police operations, what with the data that more than 5,000 people have already been killed in various anti-drugs operations nationwide.

Police would always claim that all the slain suspects were killed because they tried to fight it out with the police. But there were some cases that anti-narcotics agents were found to have planted evidence like guns and shabu against alleged drug suspects to make it appear that there were encounters.

During the Senate probe in 2017 for instance, the Caloocan City police had been insistent that 17-year old Kian delos Santos was a drug courier and that he tried to engage them in a gun battle.

It turned out that delos Santos was dragged by police operatives in a dimly-lit portion of a depressed area in Caloocan City where he was executed later.

Robredo was appointed as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) when President Duterte got mad when the Vice President said that the drug war should need a second look because it appears to be not working.

It could be recalled that Duterte promised to end illegal drugs problem in the Philippines within first three to six months of his term as president during the campaign period.
But he backtracked later and admitted it was a failure because of the deeply-rooted corruption in the government.

For instance, several shipments containing tons of shabu were smuggled in the country via the Bureau of Customs under his term as President. But the top officials tagged in the shipment of shabu were not prosecuted and were instead given other positions in the government.

Currently, Robredo has been meeting with various local and international anti-illegal drugs advocacy groups to determine the best practices that were implemented before that could be used in the Philippines.

No need to join raids

Gamboa also explained that there was no need for Robredo to join police operations as suggested by some critics and other government officials allied with the President.

“We generals do not join illegal drugs operations probably because during our younger days we were exposed to this but when being a co-chairperson of ICAD, it encompasses a lot of things,” said Gamboa.

“I hope she will not only concentrate on law enforcement because as presented mas marami actually doon dapat sa advocacy and rehabilitation,” he added.

Based on the PNP data, the number of drug users and pushers who surrendered to the government is at more than 1.5 million. But there were no clear-cut policy on what to do with them after they surrendered.

In fact, there were cases that their surrender only risked their lives since they were targeted by drug war-inspired vigilante groups. Police data revealed that some of those who were killed both in legitimate police operations and by vigilante groups were those who surrendered earlier.

Recalibration

Gamboa said the PNP is also open to recalibration of the anti-illegal drugs campaign amid calls for a new strategy due to allegations that the President’s drug war had failed.

“In any government approach dapat naman dynamic because time changes and ako personally I would like to open up options kasi we had a drug war which I think is very successful,” sid Gamboa.

“But if there is a need to recalibrate and maybe touch a few points, study it then the PNP is open to it,” he stressed.

 
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