The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday vowed to have a “strong finish” against illegal drugs as the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term draws near.
The PNP also said it will continue to protect the Indigenous People (IP) from the criminal activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), including the illegal cultivation of marijuana in their communities.
At the weekly virtual press conference of the National Task Force to End Local Communists Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), PNP Directorate for Operation Chief Major General Rhodel Sermonia said that PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar has directed the PNP to give “special attention” to IPs plight as they are very vulnerable to the scourge of the Communist Terrorists Groups (CTG).
“CPP-NPA has no principles, unlike years or decades ago. They are more into criminal activities now just to make money),” Sermonia said, adding that Eleazar’s order also had a strict instructions to have an IP Desk in regions and municipal police headquarters or stations, for all IPs that need police assistance and protection.
Sermonia specifically gave importance to the plight of many IPs as the the country observed the commemoration of the National Indigenous People’s Month and the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act for the IPRA Law.
“Giving protection to our indigenous folks is very relevant to our mandate in the PNP to fight illegal drugs and even more relevant today as we talk about Indigenous People’s rights,” Sermonia stressed.
He added that the PNP “understand that in clearing indigenous communities of this illegal drugs menace, we have to incorporate in our response the help of other agencies that have a special understanding of their culture and their social and economic activities that will be affected if we are to push for the clearing of their communities of illegal drugs.”
“This is true as we all know there are places where indigenous people live that are identified as the source of narcotic products—marijuana plantation, particularly,” Sermonia said.
Sermonia also revealed that the PNP is bent on a “strong finish” against illegal drugs, citing continuous police operations that resulted in the seizure of a voluminous amount of illegal drugs worth millions and even billions of pesos.
“We will deliver a strong finish in the drug war. If we will have a decisive victory against communist insurgents, we will have a strong finish with a happy ending in the drug war,” Sermonia said.
He added that it can be achieved with the help of everyone just in time when President Duterte will end his term in June next year.
The drive against “demand and supply reduction” approach in illegal drugs, Sermonia said, is in line with PNP goals as outlined by the President himself—“good governance and better services”— that illegal drugs dependent be treated and drug-peddlers be jailed and punished.
“BADAC (Barangay Anti-Drug Advisory Council) will have to be reactivated,” the police official further added, as it was hampered by the pandemic brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will have them (BADAC) work and make it operational again, with the help of advocacies’ group,” Sermonia said referring to the Coalition of Lingkod Bayan Advocacy Group now working with the Duterte Legacy Barangayanihan Caravan, showcasing the various projects and programs delivered by the Administration to the people, including the war on drugs.
BADAC, he added, is a very important part of fighting illegal drugs, as it identifies the ‘drug users and pushers in every community. It also handles the recovery and wellness program for former drug-dependents who were treated, including the giving of ‘skills training” for them to go back to normalcy and be accepted by their community.
He also warned policemen who are involved in illegal drugs, “Kapag ikaw pulis ka, sumangkot sa illegal drugs, tapos na pagiging pulis mo (If you’re a policeman, and involved in illegal drugs, your career as a policeman is finished). You are now subject of the PNP manhunt and interdiction operations.”