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Bato to cops: No letup in drug war
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa ordered police commanders to intensify their efforts this year and suppress the presence of illegal drugs in the country despite criticism of summary killings in the war on drugs.
This was his message to the officers of the PNP during their traditional New Year’s call held at Camp Crame yesterday.
“I told them to double their efforts,” Dela Rosa told reporters.
Last month, Dela Rosa claimed that the PNP was winning the war on drugs as they have accounted for 70 percent of 1.8 million personalities in its drug watch list based on records of the Dangerous Drugs Board culled in 2010.
At least 2,180 drug suspects were killed in police operations from July 1, 2016 to Jan. 5, 2017. In the same period, 43,577 drug personalities were arrested while 1,017,869 drug pushers and users surrendered to the government.
Critics have expressed concern on President Duterte’s drug crackdown, raising human rights abuses committed by state security forces against drug suspects.
But Dela Rosa urged police officers to ignore critics and focus on the job to suppress illegal drugs and other forms of criminality despite the rising number of killings.
“Don’t be discouraged by criticisms. Continue the game,” he said.
The media were barred from covering the PNP’s New Year call, an annual event held every January where the incumbent PNP chief meets ranking police officials and their spouses.
Unlike in previous years when members of the press were allowed access to the event, this year reporters and cameramen settled for a spot outside the venue.
PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos just sent videos of the arrival ceremony to the media.
Dela Rosa apologized to the members of the media who were barred from covering the event.
“I am sorry. I don’t have an instruction to ban you,” he told reporters in an ambush interview.
Dela Rosa explained it was the standard operating procedure of the PNP Headquarters Support Unit in charge of Camp Crame to secure the multipurpose center to thwart any threats to security such as bombing incidents. He clarified he does not consider the media a threat.
He also explained the second floor usually reserved for the media was used to serve food and cocktails, while the first floor had to be cleared for the New Year’s call of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno at 10 a.m.
“I don’t want to ban you. I even wanted you to see my wife. She looked pretty,” he added.
Dela Rosa promised to look into the incident and talk with officials in charge of the event.
Palace defends drug war anew
The Palace also took offense at the report of a United Kingdom-based newspaper that President Duterte’s drug war is out of control and he needs to be stopped.
Presidential Communication Operations Secretary Martin Andanar disputed the writer’s call to foreign countries to impose economic sanctions against the Philippines.
“The Guardian’s call for economic sanctions by foreign countries on the Philippines is uncalled for. Threats of withdrawal of development aid and other forms of assistance are totally unfounded,” he said.
“The President remains undaunted as he will never compromise the dignity of the nation for foreign aid. There is an enormous drug problem in the Philippines and he is trying his best to keep the country from becoming a narco-state.
“President Rodrigo Duterte is in full control of the drug war,” he added.
Andanar also said the Philippines should be treated as a “sovereign nation” and with “mutual respect.”
An article written by Robert Muggah for The Guardian criticized Duterte’s tough stance against crime and his “authoritarian” tendencies.
“It may be time to consider divesting from companies that are directly and indirectly fuelling the massacre of Filipinos,” the article read.
The Guardian article added that bolder action is needed, and that the international criminal court could start by treating the situation in the Philippines as a “crime against humanity” and open an investigation.
The Guardian’s report came after a series of attacks by Duterte against the United States, United Nations and the European Union for raising a howl against his drug campaign. – With Christina Mendez