By Aaron Recuenco
A police official who was quoted by an international news agency as having said the shock-and-awe strategy in the government’s war on drugs failed to be effective denied on Monday all the statements attributed to him.
In a statement released by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday, Brig. Gen. Romeo Caramat Jr., head of the police’s Drug Enforcement Group, said all the statements attributed to him were “totally misquoted.”
“I challenge Reuters that if they have evidence to prove that I said all those things, I am more than willing to be relieved immediately,” Caramat said.
The shock-and-awe statement refers to the violent approach in the implementation of the drug war where thousands of suspected drugs personalities have been killed since the drug war was launched in July 2016.
In the same statement, the PNP insisted the drug war has been successful and provided data on the confiscated drugs and the number of persons killed and arrested since July 2016.
“Over the past three years, the campaign was able to shut down the operations of 14 clandestine crystal meth (shabu) laboratories and 419 drug dens in different parts of the country. So far there are no more signs that indicate local production of methamphetamine products in the Philippines,” the statement read.
“Translated into operational terms by police units, the strategy was able to take off the streets an estimated 5.1 tons of shabu, 2.2 tons of marijuana, 500 kilograms of cocaine, and 42,473 ecstacy pills, all estimated by DDB (Dangerous Drugs Board) to be worth P40.39 billion,” it added.
PNP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said the aggressive campaign to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in the country has been their top priority.
He added that the PNP even shifted the operation from the street level peddlers to the higher level dealers engaged in the trafficking of commercial quantity of drugs (crystal meth) 50 grams or more as part of the strategy.
Banac said since the drug war was launched, 151,601 separate anti-drug operations were conducted resulting in the arrest of 220,728 drug law violators, among them 8,185 high value targets and the death of 5,552 drug personalities.
“All these operations led to the clearing of 16,706 drug-affected barangays in different localities,” Banac said.
On the soft-hand approach to the drug problem, Banac said 421,724 drug patients were treated under PNP-initiated and -supported community center recovery and wellness programs.
Caramat is one of the officials at the forefront of the drug war. A number of drug personalities were killed and arrested in Bulacan when he was provincial director there.
During his stint at the Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (IMEG), a handful of policemen suspected to be involved in illegal drugs trade were also killed. IMEG, formerly known as the Counter-Intelligence Task Force, is mandated to run after scalawag policemen.
Caramat was also the police official who stated that the Philippines consumes three tons of shabu every week, which served as the basis for Vice President Leni Robredo to declare that the drug war was a failure in the aspect of drug supply reduction.