PNP calls Ateneo study “unfair”, says cops have no new powers in “war on drugs”


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MANILA, Philippines – As with most critics, Police General Guillermo Eleazar, Chief of the Philippine National Police, dismissed claims in a recent study that the powers vested in the PNP in the conduct of its “war on drugs ”revealed weaknesses within the organization.

“I think the claim that the war on drugs has led to an increase in the number of abusive cops is unfounded and an unfair assumption because the PNP has never tolerated thugs in its ranks. The PNP has its own mechanisms. for corrupt cops, ”he said. in a statement sent to journalists.

It comes after a working paper from the Ateneo School of Government said that the Duterte administration has largely failed on promises to end crime, corruption and drug trafficking in the Philippines. .

The same promises supported the election campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte, who pledged to keep them within three to six months. He requested an extension soon after, saying he underestimated the extent of the problems.

The considerable powers given to the police in the conduct of the government’s anti-drug campaign also exposed the weaknesses of the PNP, as problems of abuse and corruption prompted more responsible PNP leaders to call for deeper reforms of the PNP. ‘organization and a recalibration of the anti-drug campaign “, one can read in the newspaper.

“Privileges granted to the cops”: The newspaper, published Monday evening and titled “National Security, Anti-Corruption and Anti-Crime Policies in the Duterte Administration,” said the administration had become “too dependent on the capacity of the police and the security personnel whom the president could trust “.

Former Education Secretary Edilberto de Jesus, who wrote the report, said Duterte’s failure to address these issues “was due to his tackling complex issues primarily like education issues. law enforcement “which he had attempted to resolve by courting” the favor of the military and police. “

“It matched the image he wanted to project as president of law and order committed to the overarching goal of fighting insurgency and crime,” De Jesus said, stressing the scale Duterte government personnel who were still serving or retired. security forces

“This stemmed from his assumption that he could count on those with military training to carry out his orders without a doubt. Finally, he believed he needed soldiers to enable him to rule the country.”

Eleazar on Tuesday denied that the police had any special powers and said the campaign against illegal narcotics was part of the agency’s mandate.

He added that “special attention” has been paid to the campaign against illegal drugs “on the basis of the experience that most crimes, especially heinous crimes, are rooted in illegal drugs.” He provided no basis to support this claim.

“This is a national approach that aims not only to treat illegal drugs as a problem of peace and order, but also as a health and social concern,” the general said.

“Winning the war on drugs?” “: PNP chief cited government data from the Real Numbers PH campaign indicating that the war on drugs resulted in the arrest of 293,841 drug suspects, including 12,356 high-value targets, in 203,715 anti-drug operations at national scale.

He added that a total of 59.93 billion pesos of narcotics, including 49.31 billion shabu pesos, were confiscated in the various operations and that 22,093 barangays were declared cleared – all supposed “gains” that government officials continue to insist that the administration is “winning” the war on drugs.

“The data will disprove this claim. I think we no longer need to count the anti-drug operations that resulted in the seizure of large amounts of shabu and high-value late targets, as well as the now drug-free barangays. “said Eléazar.

Figures from Real Numbers PH, which compiles data from the PNP, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Dangerous Drugs Board, also note that 6,089 suspects have died during official operations since July 2016, although Eleazar omitted that number in his statement.

Former PNP chiefs said the number was around 8,000 deaths, but that figure was later lowered to the current figure. But rights groups say the actual death toll could reach 30,000 so far.

However, in 2020, crystal or shabu methamphetamines were still the cause of the highest number of arrests and treatment admissions in the Philippines, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found in a report. .

Also citing figures from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Dangerous Drugs Board, UNODC said shabu “remains the main drug of concern in the Philippines” with only one year under the Duterte administration.

According to Real Numbers PH, 13,649 barangays remain classified as “yet to be cleaned up” from illegal drugs.

“The president overestimated, exaggerated, exaggerated, the scale and the gravity of the problem. Strategies that could be effective in controlling drugs in a city were difficult to implement at the national level, ”said De Jesus.

READ: One year away from Duterte’s tenure, UNODC says shabu remains a major problem in the Philippines

Allergic to responsibility?: Government and national police officials generally resent criticism of the Duterte administration’s “war on drugs”.

Earlier, the global investigative group Investigate PH in a second report to be sent to the 47th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council said police are blocking attempts at transparency and accountability.

“Police routinely cover up the circumstances of the murders in drug operations, intimidate families and potential witnesses, and obstruct the examination of most murders,” he said.

Interviews with witnesses conducted by the group have revealed that friends and families of the victims are intimidated and even threatened to remain silent. Meanwhile, police officials point to the lack of formal complaints as evidence that operations are being carried out properly.

READ: PNP: No cover-up in the ‘war on drugs’; more than 5,000 police officers dismissed for “abuse”

Eleazar also denied this, pointing to the 18,000 dismissals of police officers found at fault in the performance of their duties.

“In enforcing the war on drugs, the PNP takes into consideration responsibility and adherence to a human rights-based police force,” he said.

While claiming to defend responsibility, the PNP continues to drag its feet in its alleged cooperation with investigations. Of the more than 6,000 drug war-related deaths confirmed by police data, only 61 files have been turned over to the Justice Department for review.

“Allowing security officials, suspected of embezzlement, to retain government authority was more dangerous when they also had legitimate access to lethal weapons,” De Jesus said.

“The more the leaders depend on the police, the more the age-old question that they must always ask themselves is crucial: who will keep the guards?

READ: Abuses in ‘war on drugs’ systematically covered up, advocates say

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