MAGANES: Relaunching of OPLAN Double Barrel-Reloaded
I am a staunch supporter of the anti-illegal drug campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte, much so a believer on the capability of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in eliminating the drug menace.I was dismayed a little bit when the anti-illegal drug campaign under the PNP was suspended last January due to the abduction and killing of Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo in October 2016, which was perpetrated by no less than officers of the police institution.
The said event led to the abolition of Anti-Drug Enforcement Group (ADEG) and subsequently the war on illegal drugs was given back to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). It was followed by the cleansing of rogue and scalawag policemen inside the PNP that is still being undertaken to date.
In my previous articles on this column, I repeatedly batted that the war against illegal drugs should be reverted back to the PNP because it has adequate personnel and has the capability to wage war against drug lords, drug pushers/traders and drug users. The gains against the illegal drugs prior to its suspension were enormous.
It can be recalled that as of January 30, 2017, the government as reported by PNP has accomplished under “Project Tokhang” the following: number of operations conducted-43,497; drug personalities: killed-2,551,arrested-52,962; Project Tokhang: number of houses visited-7,031,394, total number of surrenderers-1,178,224 (pushers-79,341, users-1,098,883); casualties on police operations (PNP personnel killed- 35, wounded-87, under validation: killed-13, wounded-10); and , casualties on AFP operations ( killed in action-3, wounded in action-8). The war against illegal drugs has then to be sustained. However, much is desired that the continuing war should not be limited to the poor drug users but also to nab drug lords, narco-politicians and ninja policemen as well as to stop the killings allegedly undertaken by vigilantes.
Last March 6, Chief PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa relaunched OPLAN Double Barrel-Reloaded and created the PNP-Drug Enforcement Group (P-DEG). He promised that the flaws and mistakes in the past will no longer be committed. He said each police stations in the country shall have a parallel DEG, which will be manned by police officers of high integrity, are untarnished by corruption and have the passion to combat illegal drugs in the country. Dela Rosa even said that church leaders will be a part of the Operation Tokhang and that they will be involved in the visitations of the surrenderers as well as those new ones.
We are all aware that under the OPLAN Double Barrel, there are two operations. First is the Operation HVT (High Value Targets), which targets narco-politicians and drug lords. Second is the Operation “Tokhang” involving drug pushers and users. Many times I’ve been advocating that Operation HVT should not be left behind. The drug personalities in it are the very core of anti-illegal drugs. They could easily dupe other users and pushers to be their dealers. I don’t subscribe to the idea that the users and pushers should first be eradicated. The high-value targets (HVTs) are moneyed that they can even hoodwink barangay officials, police officers, media and even church leaders. This is a reality that the PNP should look into.
After the relaunching of the OPlan Double Barrel, the following day was again bloody and messy. Four men who were allegedly drug pushers were killed in Bulacan. Many others were nabbed in Caloocan City and in many parts of the country. This goes to show that the suspension of the war against illegal drugs has provided avenues for the drug lords, traders, pushers and users went back to their illegal activities. Where is now the thick compilation of narco-politicians as shown before to the public by President Duterte?
I guess the PNP leadership should start on that list in order to curtail, if not cut totally, the supply of illegal drugs especially shabu in our communities. I have yet to hear and see narco-politicians in many towns and provinces to be “tokhanged”. Why are they so elusive? Why is the PNP not doing anything to really crack down on their activities? I don’t want to speculate that there’s something fishy about it. Why then that the usual targets are those surrenderers who do not have access to drug supplies? Apparently, illegal drug supplies come from drug traders and drug lords.
Because of the zealousness of some officials of PNP to show that they are working well on the anti-illegal drugs campaign, they have declared many barangays and towns (Pangasinan included) as drug-free areas. I personally don’t believe that. With the present magnitude of drugs’ proliferation in the country, not one village could be declared drug-free or drug cleared. If we do that, drug traders will just go to those villages and freely operate their illegal activities, meaning we will then again start from the scratch. No provinces, towns or villages (barangays) should be declared as drug-free areas. They should always be considered as vulnerable areas for drug operations especially now that President Duterte said that many barangay officials are part of the narco-operations in the country.
The drug war is not the only concern of the national government. This is a concern of every peace loving citizen- a concern of individuals, families, neighborhoods and the communities. Everybody should be involved but such involvement should not be confined on pinpointing drug users and pushers in the communities. Everyone should educate the members of his family on the ill effects of drugs.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has also its Masa-Masid Program. This involves the fight against corruption, crimes, and drugs in which at the core of this program are the village officials. What will be then the moral ascendancy of the barangay officials particularly the village heads if in case they themselves are involved in corruption and illegal drugs? This is an unsolicited advice to DILG. If indeed, the agency is firm on its stand to curb corruption, crimes, and drugs, all barangay officials who are tainted with illegal activities should be suspended and be replaced by other officials who are sincere and true to their calling as public servants. I think this is the first move to really eradicate scalawag barangay officials. There are many of them in our midst.
I don’t want this government to fail. We have seen the sincerity of President Duterte in initiating reforms. However, these reforms could not be felt unless each one of us will do its share in nation building. We are facing a social war on drugs, corruption and other forms of criminalities. These wars should be won, otherwise we will go back to the previous situation of our country where the moneyed politicians are the ones corrupting us and even to the extent of sowing fear in our communities.
(For comments and suggestions, email me at email@example.com. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” atwww.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com.)
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