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Bar searches for drugs, guns ‘routine’ – QCPD

MANILA, Philippines —  Police officers inspecting the bags of  bar patrons is “routine” and similar to bag checks at malls, the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) said yesterday.

Following a backlash from netizens, QCPD director Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar said the inspection is under “Oplan Bakal” and was conducted in coordination with officials of Barangay Loyola Heights and owners of business establishments.

Operation Plan Bakal was initially set up to search for illegal firearms but this was expanded to include illegal drugs after the QCPD received reports of drug deals in the bars, Eleazar said.

A team composed of around 10 police officers conducted bar inspections in at least four bars starting at around 11 p.m.

The inspection prompted students of nearby universities along Katipunan Avenue to air their dismay on social media and express fears of possible evidence planting during the inspection. 

A 24-year-old student of Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) who was inspected by the police told The STAR that he and his friends felt “intimidated” as at least eight policemen entered the bar and inspected their bags using flashlights.

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“I felt like it wasn’t warranted. Yes, they asked permission pero wala silang reason to go there in the first place,” he said. 

The student said he feared that refusing to be inspected would prompt the lawmen to arrest or shoot him, claiming he “fought back.”

Netizens speculated that the bar searches were done after the ADMU Blue Babble cheerleading group aired its stance against extrajudicial killings earlier this week.

Eleazar said the inspections were done properly and that shareholders approved of the inspection during consultative meetings last year.

Meron tayong assurance na lahat ng ginagawa ay may guidelines na sinusunod. If there is abuse, report it. I will not allow it,” he added. 

The QCPD chief said the police begun Oplan Bakal in response to drunken altercations and shootings in bars in the country more than three decades ago.

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