PNP won’t change drug war guidelines, says Dela Rosa

Rambo Talabong
PNP won’t change drug war guidelines, says Dela Rosa
The Philippine National Police will only change its memorandum on the war on drugs if the Supreme Court orders it to do so

MANILA, Philippines – While Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa recognizes lessons from previous incidents in the drug war, the need to change the police’s guidelines isn’t one of them.

“I don’t consider that as a lesson. ‘Yung merong play of words na gusto nilang i-ram down our throats, ‘yung mga kritiko na ‘yan, no, hindi kami sasakay diyan sa gusto nila mangyari…. Hindi namin babaguhin ang memorandum circular, we stand by it,” Dela Rosa said in a Camp Crame press conference on Monday, November 27, after he was asked whether the lessons will be reflected in the PNP’s drug war policy.

(I don’t consider that as a lesson. There is a play of words that they want to ram down our throats. We won’t take the bait…We will not change the memorandum circular, we stand by it.)

Dela Rosa was referring to the Supreme Court (SC) petition filed against their memorandum circular which launched Oplan Double Barrel – the PNP’s anti-drug campaign designed to target high-value targets and small-time drug dealers and users.

Petitioners claim the order is unconstitutional as it set the PNP’s campaign in motion without a formal order from President Rodrigo Duterte, and the memorandum supposedly allowed room for abuse.

They want the memorandum struck down or revised. (READ: Was the PNP’s war on drugs illegal? Here’s why lawyers think so)

“‘Yung memorandum circular namin, before namin ipalabas pinag-aralan namin ‘yan, kung ‘yan ba ay mabuti o hindi,” Dela Rosa said. (We studied our memorandum circular before its release, if it would do good or bring harm.)

Dela Rosa said they will only change or revoke the memorandum if the SC declares it unconstitutional.

“We stand by our conviction na mabuti ‘yan, pero kung sabihin ng Supreme Court na unconstitutional and illegal (We stand by our conviction that it’s good, but if the Supreme Court says it is unconstitutional and illegal), well, we have to abide by the Supreme Court,” he said.

The PNP is now waiting for its return to the war on drugs, after Duterte said he would eventually tap the police again.

While Dela Rosa said the memorandum stays, more guidelines may still be added. Such is the case with the PNP’s intensified internal cleansing program after their first return to the drug war last March.

Asked if there is a date for their second return, Dela Rosa could not provide a definite answer. “It can be today, it can be tomorrow,” he said.

Dela Rosa is set to face the petitioners at the SC on Tuesday, November 28, for the PNP to present its arguments. Solicitor General Jose Calida will stand as the police’s legal counsel. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.