The powers given to policemen to conduct the government’s anti-drug campaign exposed the weaknesses of the Philippine National Police (PNP), according to a study by the Ateneo de Manila University.
In a paper titled “Duterte at 5: The Administration By The Numbers,” former education secretary Edilberto de Jesus said that the privileges given to cops gave rise to corruption and abuse of power. In fact, it prompted police officials to institute reforms in the service and recalibrate the war on drugs, said the study.
“Ito ay isang malaking problema na ating hinaharap. Ang nagiging epekto ng Drug War sa kapulisan mismo na maaaring marami ang naniniwala na makakalusot sila kahit papaano dahil sa mayroon silang ‘blank check’ sa kung anong kailangan nilang gawin,” De Jesus said.
(This is a big problem that we are facing. The effects of the drug war on the police is, they believe they can get away with it because they have a “blank check” to do what they need to do.)
Five years into the deadly drug war, only a few cases of police abuses in anti-drug operations were properly recorded and brought to court. And following the announcement of the International Criminal Court about the possibility of a probe into the drug war, the police shared only 61 cases with the justice department.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the PNP have also been passing the buck on sharing drug war records with other independent groups such as the Commission on Human Rights.
In a statement released on Tuesday, July 20, PNP chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar disputed the study and said there were no privileges given to cops in operating the government’s drug war.
“I would like to point out that the PNP and other enforcers of the war on drugs were never bestowed any privilege as the study claimed. The campaign against illegal drugs is part of our mandate to carry out just as it is our duty to act against and prevent other crimes,” Eleazar said.
The PNP chief added that policemen adhere to human rights-based policy in conducting anti-drug operations.
“In enforcing the war on drugs, the PNP takes into high consideration accountability and adherence to human rights-based policing. Police personnel who commit any violation in the Police Operational Procedure or abuse in conducting operations are held accountable for their actions or lapses,” the PNP chief added.
De Jesus also noted that Duterte’s anti-drug strategy in Davao City did not work on a national scale.
“The President overestimated, exaggerated, hyped up, the scale and gravity of the problem. Strategies that could be effective to control drugs within a city were difficult to implement on a national basis,” De Jesus explained.
The government has yet to eradicate drugs in at least 20,154 barangays in the country. This is a far cry from the president’s promise to eliminate drugs in the country in only three to six months.
The latest report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on drugs in the Southeast Asian region showed how ineffective Duterte’s drug war has been. According to the report, crystal methamphetamine or shabu remains the top drug problem in the Philippines.
The Ateneo study also highlighted the worsening extrajudicial killings in the country. Specifically, De Jesus noted that activists and lawyers are also being targeted.
“At iyong EJK ay lumaganap na rin kaya nabahala na rin ang DOJ. Hindi lamang nagiging biktima iyong mga drug addict suspects, nagiging biktima rin iyong mga leftist activists, iyong mga abogado ng leftist activists,” De Jesus said.
(The EJK also worsened that’s why the DOJ is now worried. Aside from drug suspects, leftist activists and their lawyers are also being targeted.)
Based on the data of rights group Karapatan, there were 414 victims of extrajudicial killings in the country, as of July 2021. 211 of these were activists.
61 lawyers have also been killed in the five years of Duterte’s term. This is alarming compared to the 49 lawyers killed in a span of 44 years – from the presidency of dictator Ferdinand Marcos to Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
In total, at least 110 lawyers, judges, and prosecutors were killed in the Philippines from 1977 to 2021. – Rappler.com