After war on drugs, it’s ‘war vs illegal gambling’ for PNP

Bea Cupin
After war on drugs, it’s ‘war vs illegal gambling’ for PNP
The PNP's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group will be the lead unit in the anti-gambling campaign

MANILA, Philippines – After being booted out from President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will now be entering a “war against illegal gambling.”

“The bottomline is the national advocacy to rid the country of all forms of illegal gambling activities that contribute to moral decay and provide an economic support system that sustains other forms of illegal activity,” PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa said in a statement on Monday, February 13, a few days after Executive Order (EO) No. 13, which seeks to “intensify” the government’s efforts against illegal gambling, took effect.

“Based on our own experience, illegal gambling activities, if left unchecked, breed corruption and may mutate into other forms of organized crime, including drug-trafficking, illegal vices, money laundering, and kidnapping,” said Dela Rosa.

He added: “By this pronouncement, the PNP is hereby declaring war against illegal gambling.”

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) will be taking the lead in implementing the EO on behalf of the PNP, Dela Rosa said.

Other government agencies involved include the National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

It isn’t the first time that Dela Rosa has announced the PNP’s plan to curb illegal gambling. Back in August, when the war on drugs was in its early stages, Dela Rosa said illicit gambling would be next once they were finished targeting illegal substances.

But those announcements were made months before the PNP’s abrupt exit from the war on drugs on Duterte’s own orders.

The President, whose anti-drug campaign was a major campaign promise in 2016, ordered a stop to all police anti-drug operations after it was revealed that cops from the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) allegedly kidnapped and killed a South Korean businessman.

Duterte also ordered the disbandment of all AIDG units. The President said then that the PNP was “corrupt to the core.” 

‘Double barrel’ vs illegal gambling 

Dela Rosa said that even before the EO was signed by Duterte, the PNP had already created a “double barrel” plan for illegal gambling similar to their plan for the war on drugs.

The PNP’s approach to the drug war involved two facets – “high-value targets” such as drug lords, and “Oplan TokHang” which targeted “street-level” drug personalities.

“TokHang,” however, has been criticized for supposedly violating human rights. It has also been allegedly used by police as a smokescreen for illegal activities.

The Court of Appeals recently issued a permanent protection order for an alleged TokHang survivor and victims’ families in Payatas, Quezon City.

Dela Rosa said the PNP initially planned to create an “Oplan TokHang” for gambling, but he added that they would “abide [by] the provisions of the Executive Order.” –

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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.