‘War on drugs’ begins in BGC, Makati bars

Bea Cupin
‘War on drugs’ begins in BGC, Makati bars
Armed cops in plain clothes are set to begin their rounds in upscale bars and clubs in Bonifacio Global City and Makati

MANILA, Philippines – It was an unlikely sight at Valkyrie and The Palace Pool Club, two upscale clubs at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig: Director General Ronald dela Rosa, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), taking a quick stroll, obliging party-goers with the ubiquitous selfie.

Close to midnight on Wednesday, August 24, Dela Rosa went around the complex right after a press conference and the signing of an “affidavit of undertaking” between the Southern Police District (SPD) and several club and bar owners from the cities of Taguig and Makati.

Alam niyo naman ako, ako’y pulis probinsiya. Ngayon lang ako napunta dito. Ngayon lang ako nakakita ng ganitong lugar kaya talagang inikot ko. Nakikita ko naman na ‘yung mga party-goers… mali naman ‘yung conclusion na lahat ay may ginagawa na hindi maganda, diba? Mangingilan lang siguro ang gumagamit ng ipinagbabawal na droga,” Dela Rosa told reporters in a chance interview Wednesday evening.

(You know that I’m a cop from the province. It’s my first time to come here. It’s my first time to see a place like this so I made it a point to go around. I saw the party-goers and it seems to me that the conclusion that all of them are doing something wrong is wrong, isn’t it? Only a few use prohibited drugs.)

But Dela Rosa wasn’t in there for the fun.

He, alongside top PNP officials and Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano, had a stern warning for the “few” club-goers that did consume illegal drugs: stop or else.

Several clubs and bars based in Makati and Taguig – home to upscale establishments in Metro Manila – inked the deal with police as a show of “support” for the police force’s “war on illegal drugs.”

Plain clothes cops, access to CCTV

SPD chief Senior Superintendent Tomas Apolinario Jr said the bar owners and managers requested a dialogue with Dela Rosa after the PNP chief announced his plans to bring the nationwide campaign against illegal drugs to high-end establishments. Dela Rosa noted that the consumption of party drugs was prevalent in some bars and clubs.

Armed policemen in plain clothes will be visiting the clubs and bars that signed the agreement “during special events or on any day and night as necessary.”

Establishments will also be expected to give copies of closed circuit television (CCTV) videos and still photos of “persons of interests” following a written request from the PNP.

WAR ON DRUGS. PNP chief Director General Roland dela Rosa, Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano, and top officials of the PNP on August 24, 2016. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Employees of the bars and clubs, meanwhile, will be asked to be witnesses in incidents or police operations “involving the establishment for matters within their personal knowledge.”

Apolinario said police will be providing the management of the establishments a list of cops – from the SPC and the Taguig City police – who are authorized to do the rounds in these places.

Dela Rosa reminded his men and women not to abuse their newfound role, adding that they won’t be allowed to have open tabs in these bars. He did, however, insist on allowing cops to be armed when they do their rounds.

“‘Pag hindi armed, hindi sila pulis. Bakit pa sila pumasok dito kung wala silang dalang baril? They cannot enforce the law. Ano sila, magkakaratehan (If they’re not armed, they’re not police. Why bother entering the establishments if they don’t have their guns with them? They cannot enforce the law. What do you want them to do, karate?)” quipped Dela Rosa.

Cayetano warned establishments that failing to follow the agreement could result in the revocation of business permits. The mayor added that the city government would issue a memo to establishments who did not attend Wednesday’s meeting to find out why they were absent. 

Bar and club owners who were gathered at Cafe Naya promised to cooperate with the PNP to implement the agreement.

When Dela Rosa asked if the PNP’s crackdown on illegal drugs would affect their businesses, none of those present expressed concern.

The government’s campaign against illegal drugs has been hit by critics for supposedly targeting only the poor and encouraging violence and vigilantism. 

Dela Rosa said that with PNP’s efforts to be present in high-end clubs and bars, he hoped this notion would end. Theirs is a campaign that covers both rich and poor, he said.

Text of agreement

Here’s the full text of the agreement between the SPD and bar owners, according to a release from the police:

  • The establishment will fully assist and cooperate in the investigation of the PNP on any incident or police operations that may arise within the premises area of business operation. This includes the following assistance, among others: 
    • Copies of available CCTV videos and still photos of the person/s of interest within reasonable time after a written request has been made during such time and date specified by the PNP; 
    • Authorizing employees to serve as witnesses to any incident or Police Operations involving the establishment for matters within their personal knowledge; and
    • Allowing selected personnel of Anti-Illegal Drugs and Intelligence Agents to enter the establishment during special events or on any day and night as necessary.
  • That the establishment will adhere to and comply with the existing laws and regulations provided for the security deployment during the conduct of concerts; music festivals and other similar gatherings or activities involving large number of crowd;
  • That the establishment will support the PNP and other Law Enforcement Agencies as law- abiding citizens in the name of justice, peace and drug-free environment in accordance with the law.

– Rappler.com 

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.