The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday urged local chief executives to support the government’s renewed campaign against illegal drugs by formulating a plan of action that responds to the needs of their localities.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday said it respects the decision of a Caloocan City court convicting a policeman in the torture and planting of evidence against two teenage boys, Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo “Kulot” De Guzman in who eventually turned out to be victims of salvaging in 2017.
“Our anti-illegal drugs campaign takes a whole-of-government approach which would only be efficient if we are able to execute plans such as local anti-drug plan of action and barangay anti-drug plan of action down at the grassroots.
It is imperative that our local government units (LGUs) work with us and draft their respective plan of actions in the barangays,” said DILG secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr.
Abalos said the LGUs must include these action plans in their initiatives and efforts that will strengthen the campaign, and specify programs and activities that will be given allocation in their respective annual budget relative to anti-illegal drug efforts.
“The local Sanggunian shall appropriate the fund for the enforcement of the anti-illegal drug initiatives included in the plan of actions,” he added.
By doing this, said Abalos, local officials can significantly contribute to the “Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan” or BIDA program, the revitalized anti-drug advocacy campaign of the government aimed to reduce drug demand in the communities by harnessing the support of the LGUs, the national government agencies, private sectors, faith-based organizations, and civil society organizations.
The local and barangay plan of action initiative is anchored on Republic Act No. 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 which embodies the national government’s commitment to eradicate the country’s illegal drugs problem.
In Memorandum Circular 2022-141, Abalos encouraged provincial, as well as city and municipal mayors to formulate their 2023-2025 local anti-drug plan of action within their first 200 days in office, specifying their anti-illegal drug programs and activities based on their localities’ drug situation.
He said the local action plan shall include the anti-illegal drugs situation of the locality for accurate decision-making; priority anti-illegal drugs issues and challenges, prioritizing supply and demand reduction; objectives to address the local issues and challenges; critical policies, programs, projects, services and activities for the anti-illegal drugs issues; and its funding requirements.
In another development, PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said they “never ceased to keep track of this case since the early stages of the investigation until its successful prosecution. “We respect the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Caloocan City finding the accused Jefrey Perez guilty of the charges filed against him for the deaths of Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo De Guzman in August 2017,” Azurin said in a statement.
He added that the PNP “remains steadfast in its sworn duty to uphold and respect human rights in all aspects of police operations in fighting criminality.”
“The decision was a result of a fair full-blown trial hence, we believe that the accused was given his day in court to present his side. Nevertheless, any acts committed by erring personnel do not reflect the views of the whole PNP organization,” Azurin stressed.
He said the PNP has always maintained its stance to uphold the rule of law in all its undertakings.
“The PNP (is ought) to shift its strategy to anti-crime and illegal drug campaign. We aim to utilize a more holistic approach to combating crimes which would involve the church and the community through our Kasimbayanan program.
However, Azurin said a zero casualty in police operation is not always possible, as they are also prioritizing the safety of their personnel which includes the need to defend themselves “when attacked or the lives of innocent civilians are on the line”.
He also said the protection of human rights are observed in these measures.
“We are keen on observing different approaches on our anti-crime campaign to minimize, if not avoid, armed confrontations in our police operations,” he noted.
PNP Public Information Office chief Col. Red Maranan said Perez was dismissed from the service on Oct. 4, 2018.
“This has been a manifestation that the PNP do not tolerate wrongdoings committed within its own ranks and is fully committed in the implementation of its internal cleansing program. This has been a result of the quick response of the PNP on the irregularity committed by one of its personnel. This is likewise a manifestation that the PNP do not tolerate wrongdoings committed in its own ranks,” Maranan said.
In a decision handed down last Nov. 10, Judge Rodrigo Pascua Jr. of the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court Branch 122 found Perez guilty of violation of Sections 4 and 14 of Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 for torturing Arnaiz and De Guzman. Perez was sentenced to reclusion perpetual (life imprisonment) or up to 40 years jail time.
Perez was also found guilty of planting of evidence on the two boys.
The court ordered him to pay P1 million in moral damages and another P1 million in exemplary damages, or a total of P2 million for each of the two victims’ heirs.
Arnaiz and De Guzman, who were suspected casualties of the drug war under the previous administration, were last seen alive together on Aug. 18, 2017 in their neighborhood in Cainta, Rizal. They were aged 19 and 14 years, respectively, at the time of their disappearance.
The Caloocan City police claimed Arnaiz died during a shootout last Aug. 18 when he resisted arrest and fired his handgun at chasing cops after allegedly robbing a taxi driver.
Arnaiz’s body was found at the Ezekiel Funeral Homes, also in Caloocan City, weeks after he disappeared.
De Guzman’s body was fished out of a creek in Gapan, Nueva Ecija on Sept. 5, 2017. It bore at least 28 stab wounds with his head wrapped in packing tape and a shirt.