war on drugs

Hontiveros hits PNP for allegedly using detainees in anti-drug operations

Mara Cepeda
Hontiveros hits PNP for allegedly using detainees in anti-drug operations

Senator Risa Hontiveros speaks during a hearing on the February PNP-PDEA shootout on May 24, 2021. Screenshot by Senate PRIB

Screenshot by Senate PRIB

'Common practice ba ng kapulisan ang paggamit ng bilanggo para tulungan sila sa mga anti-illegal drug operations nila?' asks Senator Risa Hontiveros

Opposition senator Risa Hontiveros slammed the Philippine National Police (PNP) for allegedly using detainees in its anti-illegal drug operations.

A Senate hearing on the February shootout between cops and agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Monday, May 24, revealed that the PNP had tapped detainee Jonaire Decena alias “Mama Jo” to serve as its informant.

“Common practice ba ng kapulisan ang paggamit ng bilanggo para tulungan sila sa mga anti-illegal drug operations nila? Standard operating procedure ba ito? It seems reality is stranger than fiction,” Hontiveros said.

(Is it common practice of the police to use prisoners to help them in their anti-illegal drug operations? Is this standard operating procedure? It seems reality is stranger than fiction.)

The senator said the bungled buy-bust operation between the PNP and PDEA – vanguards of President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs – was not the only time that a detainee had allegedly been used as an informant. 

Hontiveros said her office had sourced a video of another female detainee who admitted working for the PNP when cops almost clashed with PDEA agents during simultaneous buy-bust operations in a Quezon City mall on May 14. 

In the video, the woman said she was detained on February 3. When asked why she was able to leave her detention cell on May 14, the woman replied, “May trabaho po kasi kami (We have a job to do).”

Hontiveros then called on the PNP leadership to investigate “this serious allegation.”

“Kung public order ang gusto natin, dapat sa protocols pa lang maayos at strategic na. Hindi puwedeng may kanya-kanyang trip ang iba’t ibang pulis,” said the senator. 

(If we want public order, the protocols should already be orderly and strategic. The police can’t just do things on a whim.)

During the Senate hearing, PDEA blamed the PNP’s lapses in the conduct of its buy-bust operation for the misencounter that killed two cops, a PDEA agent, and a PDEA informant.

PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva also said both his group and the PNP were supposedly fooled by their informants. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.