AMID an aggressive anti-drug campaign in which more than 100 drug suspects have been killed, the Philippine National Police on Sunday urged cops who are users to surrender now to avoid charges and get help.
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said cops who confess that they are drug addicts will be given a chance to reform in a rehabilitation center.
Dela Rosa also said police officers who surrender to their unit commander before undergoing a drug test would be spared charges.
In line with the government’s zero tolerance policy for drug abuse, the PNP continues to conduct random drug tests on the police force.
Dela Rosa said the drug tests aim to show transparency in the organization and to assure the public that PNP officials are capable of being role models in leading the fight against illegal substances.
Dela Rosa said he was furious over the report of the PNP Crime Laboratory that showed 20 cops tested positive for illegal drug use.
“I want to strangle them in front of you,” Dela Rosa told members of the PNP Press Corps in Filipino.
Dela Rosa said those who tested positive in drug test should not stay in the service because they did not only violate the law but also embarassed the organization.
He said policeman who test positive in the confirmatory test will be dismissed from service.
In line with this, Dela Rosa said he already directed all regional directors to ensure that all their personnel involved in anti-drug operations have a clean record.
PNP Crime Laboratory Director Chief Supt. Emmanuel Aranas said of the 20 policemen who tested positive for drug use, five were from Luzon, six were from the Visayas and nine were from Mindanao.
The PNP Crime Lab has tested 22,238 PNP personnel nationwide as of June.
A Palace official said Sunday there are some 1.8-million people involved in the illegal drug trade.
“What I know is that I’ve seen the matrix of those who are highly involved in the sale of illegal drugs. What I can only tell you, is that if you see the matrix, you’ll probably say that it is unbelievable that there are so many, and you would vomit if you see the data shown by the PDEA [Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency],” said Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, over state-run radio dzRB.
“It is already conservative if we say 1.8-million people involved in drugs.... Millions of our countrymen have destroyed their lives on this,” Andanar said.
Also on Sunday, incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez warned House members against using Congress to protect drug lords and drug syndicates as he rejected calls for a probe on extra-judicial killings involving drug-related cases.
Alvarez’s warning came after lawmakers, including Liberal Party’s Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat and Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza called for a probe to shed light on the summary killings of “small fry” suspected drug criminals.
Baguilat filed House Resolution 61 seeking a probe on 23 cases of summary killings “under vague circumstances” since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed power while Atienza said at least 135 persons, mostly suspected neighborhood pushers, have been killed this month under the new administration’s war on drugs.
“We want all those engaged in the illicit drug trade, big and small, but especially the big ones, captured and locked up. But we cannot tolerate summary executions, especially if all those targeted are mere street-level pushers,” Atienza said.
But Alvarez said interference by Congress would invite suspicion that some lawmakers were protecting drug lords by investigating the government’s anti-drug campaign.
Atienza hit the government for targeting the small fry.
“We have to eradicate the big-time traffickers first, as well as their coddlers in law enforcement, if we are to effectively suppress the supply side of the drug problem. We’re afraid getting rid of the easily replaceable smallest players in the supply chain won’t make much of a dent,” Atienza said.
“If these victims of extrajudicial killings were really known pushers, then they should have been in jail a long time ago in a corruption-free drug enforcement drive,” Atienza said.
“The spate of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug criminals by people we expect to uphold the law hints at a disrespect for the Constitution and the deterioration of the rule of law, and if we don’t stop it or look into its causes, soon enough, people will take the law into their own hands, leading to anarchy and the disintegration of society,” Baguilat added.