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Lawmaker slams police for lenience in 'big fish cases'

MANILA, Philippines – Catanduanes Representative Cesar Sarmiento slammed the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday, August 17 for its supposed lenience in "big fish cases" in its war against illegal drugs and criminality.

"Nakaka-alarma po na pagdating sa malalaking kaso ng droga, wala po tayong malalaking isda o hindi po umuusad ang kaso," Sarmiento said during the Department of the Interior and Local Government budget hearing.

(It is alarming that when it comes to big cases in drugs, we do not have big fish, or the case does not move forward.)

Sarmiento addressed PNP regional directors unaccompanied by their chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa. The top cop was accompanying President Rodrigo Duterte in Ozamiz City.

Sarmiento gave as primary example the P6.4-billion worth of smuggled shabu easily passing through the Bureau of Customs (BOC), which is supported by the PNP's maritime group. (READ: TIMELINE: How P6.4-B worth of shabu was smuggled into PH from China)

He then cited a shabu lab in his home province Catanduanes, which according to him has had no development for the past 8 months.

"Malalaking kaso pero walang nahuling mga big fish diyan, at mukang walang kaukulang atensyon na ibinibigay para umusad ang imbestigasyon," Sarmiento said. (Big cases, but there are no big fish caught, and it looks like there is no attention given so that the investigation moves forward.)

Contrary to Sarmiento's accusation, the PNP has, for others, targeted "big fish" in its operations. (READ: The Duterte list: Judges, mayors, police officials linked to drugs)

Just July 30, the PNP was able to bring down supposed drugs and criminality-linked Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog.

Parojinog's camp allegedly shot at cops as they served a search warrant, forcing the uniformed men to retaliate.

In October 2016, police arrested drug-linked Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. However, he was killed by cops in a supposed "rubout" while he was detained.

According to the PNP's annual data, they have also arrested 1,340 high-value targets (HVTs) and taken in 3,522 HVT surrenderees accused of heading groups linked to drugs and criminality.

These cases are accompanied by the surrender of over a million small-time drug users and pushers, and the death of thousands of drug suspects. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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