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‘Double Barrel’ reloaded

After only a month of being out of the war on drugs, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is back in the battle, with what it promises to be a kinder, gentler campaign. “Today we are going to relaunch the war on drugs. We relaunched our Project Double Barrel Reloaded,” PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa announced during the regular flag-raising ceremony at Camp Crame in Quezon City yesterday. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines - After only a month of being out of the war on drugs, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is back in the battle, with what it promises to be a kinder, gentler campaign.

“Today we are going to relaunch the war on drugs. We relaunched our Project Double Barrel Reloaded,” PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa announced during the regular flag-raising ceremony at Camp Crame in Quezon City yesterday.

What’s the difference?

“This time we will make sure it will be less bloody if not bloodless,” Dela Rosa vowed, promising that “Tokhang Part 2 revisited” would target high-value drug suspects after proper “revalidation.”

Catholic clergy and other religious workers have been asked to join the police anti-drug operations, to be led by a new unit that’s still being put together, called the Drug Enforcement Group (DEG).

“We can’t afford to fail in this campaign. Ayusin na natin ang bansa (Let’s fix the country) for our children, grandchildren to live without the problem of illegal drugs,” Dela Rosa said.

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“We will live and die in this campaign,” he told the police. “If we win in this war on drugs, then long live the PNP; if we lose in the war on drugs, then good luck to the PNP.”

He named Senior Superintendent Graciano Mijares as the head of the DEG, with hotlines 0917 8950544 for Globe subscribers and 0998 9992286 for Smart.

All other positions in the DEG are vacant. De la Rosa said potential recruits will undergo rigid screening and complete background investigation so that only the best and most qualified are taken in.

Under Oplan Tokhang Part 2 revisited, Dela Rosa said only police commanders, station commanders or precinct commanders or territorial units are authorized to conduct operations, with operatives required to be in complete police uniform.

The PNP chief said every operation would require the involvement of barangay captains or any barangay official as another safety measure.

“Another new requirement in the relaunched anti-illegal drive is the mandatory coordination with Church or religious officials,” he said.

He admitted that corrupt members of the police force had used the previous Oplan Tokhang to engage in illegal activities like extortion or worse.

Dela Rosa said he expected the conduct of the re-launched anti-drug campaign to be slow as it would require greater coordination among operating units.

“We follow a strict policy under the renewed Tokhang. We don’t care if it’s slow as long as it is sure,” the PNP chief said. He explained the previous Tokhang was poorly supervised and messed up further by corrupt and incompetent policemen.

Dela Rosa also said he is encouraging all policemen to have “personal ownership” of the campaign against illegal drugs.

“Masyadong mabigat itong tungkulin sa atin (Our responsibility is enormous), I want everyone to have personal ownership. This is a fight not just of DEG, provincial DEG or regional DEG or municipal DEG alone. This is our fight. Even if we don’t have direct participation in the war on drugs, let’s put this in our heart, in our own little way,” he said.

He stressed the PNP would continue to pursue its internal cleansing as well as its anti-illegal gambling drive.

“If anyone of you have a burning desire to be part of the anti-illegal drug drive, you can volunteer … not the burning desire to become rich, earn money. Those people have no place in the PNP,” he added.

Meanwhile, the chief of PNP-Directorate for Operations said about 90 percent of the 1.2 million illegal drug users who surrendered in the past eight months under Oplan Tokhang are considered mild to moderate users and can be rehabilitated through community-based or outpatient program.

Director Camilo Cascolan said community-based or outpatient rehabilitation model program has been successfully implemented in PNP Region 6 in Iloilo and PNP Region 10 in Cagayan de Oro.

“In response to clamor of 1.2 million surrenderees in eight months, integral part of the revitalized drive versus illegal drugs of the PNP, the DPCR (Directorate for Police Community Relations) program is there, there is life after tokhang. The PNP initiated recovery and wellness program for Tokhang respondents (surrenderers),” he said.

“This is aimed at saving the users and jailing the pushers if necessary,” he added.

Cascolan said the community-based program would be in partnership with the Department of Health, as well as with the private sector and non-government organizations.

“The PNP is also assisting the government by making provincial headquarters and facilities and services to assist in drug rehab programs,” he said. “In Region 6 in Iloilo and Region 10 in Cagayan de Oro we conducted the community rehabilitation program.”

The PNP chief, he said, envisions to replicate the projects in Region 6 and Region 10 in other police offices nationwide.

From July 1 last year to Jan. 30 this year, the PNP reported a total of 2,551 drug offenders killed while trying to fight it out with lawmen and 2,928 others killed by suspected vigilante groups. The PNP classified their deaths as “under investigation.”

During the same period, 52,962 drug users and pushers were arrested and 1,178,224 individuals, including 79,341 pushers and 1,098,883 users surrendered as the PNP visited a total of  7,031,394 houses under the Oplan Tokhang.

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