MANILA, Philipipnes – A mascot representing the country’s top cop, a puppet show, and a Pinoy comic book may be the last things you’d imagine featured inside a police camp. But on Monday, August 1, all 3 were unveiled as the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s latest tools – or gimmicks, if you will – in its campaign against illegal drugs.
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa himself witnessed the first public appearance of “PO1 Bato,” the PNP’s newest mascot.
The non-commissioned version of the PNP chief even had a quick dance number before paying a courtesy call on the 4-star general.
During the same flag ceremony, a puppet show featuring Dela Rosa, President Rodrigo Duterte, a child, and drug suspects also took center stage. A tarpaulin with the words “Tatay Digong and Da Adiks” hung on the makeshift puppet show stage at the PNP’s National Headquarters.
Monday, August 1, is the 24th founding anniversary of the PNP’s Police Community Relations Group (PCRG).
But what most people around the Philippines are more likely to see is a new comic book produced by the PCRG. Entitled “Itaga Sa Bato,” the comic tells the story of “Ghio Madrigas,” an orphan who eventually finds himself in the underbelly of the illegal drugs trade.
In the story, Duterte makes a cameo. “Nang mahalal na presidente ng bansa si Rodrigo Duterte, nag-deklara ito ng ‘all out war’ sa mga pushers at users ng ilegal na droga,” reads the sole panel showing the Philippine President.
(When Rodrigo Duterte was elected president of the Philippines, he declared an ‘all out war’ against pushers and users of illegal drugs.)
“SPO1 Malinis” repeatedly tries to convince Madrigas to change his ways but fails. A police operation targeting his safe house and more convincing from SPO1 Malinis eventually push Madrigas to undergo rehabilitation. By the end of the comic, he’s an elementary school teacher.
“Umiwas sa paggamit ng mga ipinagbabawal na gamot. Wala itong mabuting maibibigay sa ating katawan,” SPO1 Malinis says in the end.
(Avoid using illegal drugs. It does nothing good to our bodies.)
The last panel also features a message from police: “Kung kayo ay may alam o kakilalang gumagamit, nagbebenta or nagtutulak ng mga ito, huwag matakot, iligtas natin. Makipag-ugnayan kaagad sa pinakamalapit na pulis station o police outpost sa inyong lugar.”
(If you have knowledge of or know someone who uses, sells, or pushes illegal drugs, don’t be afraid. Let’s help him or her. Coordinate right away with the nearest police station or outpost in your area.)
The PNP is 30 days into its “intensified” campaign against illegal drugs. Across the country, more than 300 have died in anti-illegal drugs operations conducted by police. Independent bodies have tallied more than 100 dead in apparent summary executions around the country as well.
More than 100,000 drug dependents and pushers have surrendered to police through Oplan TokHang, where cops literally knock on the doors of suspected users and pushers to give them a chance to change their ways.