AMID ‘TOKHANG’ SUSPENSION Cops focus on ‘barangay drug-clearing operations’

LEGAZPI CITY --- Amid the suspension of Oplan Tokhang by the Duterte administration, the police in Bicol will focus on “barangay drug-clearing operations” while operations against drug personalities will be sustained although both activities will be under the stewardship of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Senior Insp. Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5), said the mandate of the Philippine National Police (PNP) as an organization is to concentrate on the “seven focus crimes, such as robbery, murder, homicide, theft, carnapping, cattle rustling and rape.”

She said included in PRO5’s current thrusts are “internal cleansing and police community relations activities.”

Calubaquib said these were the specific instructions that they received from Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.

She said PRO5 Director Melvin Ramon Buenafe, who attended the recent command conference with the PNP Chief at Camp Crame, gave instructions that all drug-related operations will temporarily be conducted solely by PDEA.

Calubaquib said PRO5 will only be on a “lay low status” on the anti-illegal drug campaign called Project Double Barrel but assured massive drug-clearing operations in all barangays in the region will be pursued. “We will still be saturating all barangays as required from us by the Dangerous Drugs Board or DDB--to clear the villages or to recommend which barangays have been cleared of the illegal drug problem,” she said.

According to her, PRO5 is nearly 80 percent complete in its operation against the high- and low-value targets in the drug watchlists given to it by PDEA.

She said those in the list, including the newly identified drug personalities in the region, could not push forward with their illegal activities because their names are in the watch lists.

Buenafe has ordered that walk-in (drug) surrenderees still be processed at police stations according to PNP procedures and guidelines.

Supt. Frandee Echaluce, chief of Complaint Referral and Monitoring Center or CRMC of PRO5, added their seminars and police community relations program in the villages will also be in relation to the anti-illegal drugs campaign.

He said they will hand over to PDEA the list of their drug suspects and other issues on the illegal drug problem.

“The PNP will just act as security or support to every PDEA operation in the region,” said Echaluce. He confirmed that some police officers in the region are facing dismissal proceedings because of their involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs.

Echaluce said those policemen, who tested positive during drug tests conducted in all police stations months ago, are now on a “floating status” at the RHAU or Regional Holding Account Unit of PRO5.

Calubaquib confirmed some erring police officers in the Bicol region are facing dismissal procedures before the office of the Regional Internal Affairs Service (RIAS) at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola, headquarters of PRO5.

She named one of the candidates for dismissal as Sr. Insp. Plebbie Aterado, who is facing nine cases of grave misconduct and abuse of authority. The latter is temporarily held at the PNP’s RHAU inside Camp Ola.

Calubaquib said presently, there are cases filed before the office of RIAS against erring police officials, most of which involve grave misconduct while the cases filed by the wives of police officers were in relation with violation of Republic Act 9262 or “Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004.”

The other cases of the policemen facing dismissal proceedings involved RA 9165 or “Violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002”.

Calubaquib added the PRO5 is ready to accept complaints or reports on abusive and corrupt police officers.

"We are ready to accept and investigate,” she said.

Calubaquib said PRO5 is “soliciting the help of our constituents to find and identify these erring police officers” who are abusing their positions.

Meanwhile, Cotton Yuzon, spokesperson and public information officer of PDEA in Bicol, said they cannot issue a comment on the pronouncements made by the PNP chief and the President because they “do not yet have specific instruction from their central office.”

“We have not yet received any order or guidelines from our national office so kailangan muna naming gawin ang dati naming ginagawa before,” (we will continue with what we have been doing before) she added.