The PNP, though prevented to conduct anti-drug operations, will maintain close coordination with the PDEA on all drug-related matters.
In a press forum on illegal drugs at the Kamuning Bakery Café, Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Chief Guillermo Eleazar said the Philippine National Police (PNP) will still play a role in anti-drug operations by giving information to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which is now at the forefront in going after drug personalities and syndicates. The PNP, though prevented to conduct anti-drug operations, will maintain close coordination with the PDEA on all drug-related matters such as gathering, processing and validating anti-drug information and monitoring of drug personalities, including self-confessed drug users and pushers who voluntarily surrendered nationwide.
With this shift, the PNP will now focus on solving murder, homicide, physical injury, robbery, theft, carnapping, motornapping, and rape in the meantime. This also means that a policeman who personally witnesses an ongoing drug sale or see a person engaged in illegal drug use may arrest the suspect but has to immediately turn over the offender to PDEA. But despite the transfer of responsibility, Eleazar expressed his full support to PDEA, and warned illegal drug users and pushers to be not complacent as the PNP is still monitoring them. Eleazar, however, mentioned that PDEA should keep a keen eye on drug pushers, especially those on streets, who might resume their activities.
Eleazar also maintained that the PNP has nothing against the specific order to clean its ranks, adding that it is actually a good thing that can help them regain the public’s confidence once they lead the anti-drug campaign anew. Eleazar described the PNP’s temporary suspension from the campaign against illegal drugs as a “step backward that will bring them two steps forward.”
Assuaging the public’s fear on PNP being involved in extrajudicial killings, Eleazar explained that police buy-bust operations were different from vigilante killings. Eleazar, who is in-charge of the biggest police district in the country, said that Quezon City can be taken as an example that not all anti-drug operations lead to armed encounters. Among the 3,200 police buy-bust operations conducted by the QCPD, less than 200 resulted to armed encounters mainly because of hostile suspects.
Lastly, Eleazar shed light on PNP’s anti-illegal drugs campaign plan, which had been a topic of criticism because of the alleged extrajudicial killings associated with it. Project Double Barrel, according to Eleazar, is implemented in a two-pronged approach namely Lower Barrel (Oplan Tokhang) and the Upper Barrel. The Oplan Tokhang – often misconstrued as EJK – involves the conduct of house-to-house visits to persuade suspected illegal drug personalities to stop their illegal activities and sign up for rehabilitation. While the upper barrel is the massive conduct of anti-illegal drugs operations targeting those who refused to surrender or those who have surrendered but returned to illegal drug use. Under the Oplan Tokhang in Quezon City alone, records showed QCPD knocked at 45,668 houses and convinced 16,817 drug users and pushers to surrender. In only seven months since the campaign against illegal drugs use was launched, nine of the 142 barangays in Quezon City were already declared “drug-clear,” which means that the influence of illegal drugs within those communities had been minimized.