MANILA—A House leader on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to temporarily restrict the Philippine National Police (PNP) from conducting anti-drug operations to make way for a massive crackdown against police scalawags is a clear demonstration of the government’s resolve to win not just the war against drugs but also the war against corruption and criminality.
House Appropriations Committee Chair and Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles said “the President’s action only shows that he understands the breadth and depth of the corruption problem and he wants to place extra focus in the effort to cleanse the PNP of scalawags and misfits.”
At the same time, he also disputed insinuations that President Duterte’s action is a manifestation that he has lost his confidence on PNP chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa’s leadership.
“On the contrary, it clearly shows that the President understands that the PNP’s problem of corruption is deeply rooted and he wants the PNP chief to give his undivided attention to this problem,” Nograles said.
The House leader noted that while there is no doubt that the PNP has accomplished a lot in its war against drug during the past months, corrupt members of the police service has taken advantage of the government’s anti-drug campaign to conduct shakedowns, extortion, kidnapping and other criminal activities.
“They are using the element of fear that comes along with the PNP’s Oplan: Tokhang to extract money from civilians including those who are not really involved in drug trafficking,” he said.
“The decision of the President is a reassurance that he will not tolerate abuses in his war against drugs. This shows that the President is dead serious in his commitment to clean our country of drugs and corruption,” Nograles said.
With this development, the lawmaker urged Dela Rosa to immediately demonstrate that he also means business in his fight against rogue policemen in order to restore the people’s trust on the PNP.
“I think Gen. Dela Rosa knows that if he wants to move forward and with greater moral ascendancy, he has to cleanse the ranks of the PNP and remove all police scalawags. It should be a top-to-bottom clean-up and it doesn’t matter if the only ones left are the rookies,” Nograles said.
“The PNP campaign against corrupt and abusive cops will resonate well with our people because it will show everyone that government is sincere to serve. We must learn to trust our PNP officials again; otherwise we will have no order in our streets,” he said.
In the meantime, Nograles said that the temporary relief of the PNP from the anti-drug war does not mean that the Duterte administration he is slowing down in the fight against drugs since the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority (PDEA) is adequately equipped in effectively conducting anti-drug operations.
“Definitely, the PDEA is equipped to continue the war against drugs. We made sure that PDEA has the funding it needs this year to be able to combat illegal drugs across the nation. The police and our entire justice system will always be there to support the PDEA in its operations. And you can count on Congress, as well. After all, we all belong to the same team,” Nograles said.