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War on drugs: Upscale nightclubs, bars next

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - From underprivileged communities, police are taking their intensified campaign against illegal drugs to upscale bars and nightclubs.

But Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa made it clear he is not about to wage war with owners and operators of leisure establishments frequented by the rich, saying he only intends to get their cooperation.

“First of all, I would like to initiate dialogue with them for a peaceful approach,” he said.

The glitzy clubs and bars, he said, are mostly located in Makati and in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

“It’s in those high-end bars where people take party drugs,” he said.

Dela Rosa said the dialogue would help the PNP get information, consensus and commitment from establishment owners to cooperate with the government in its campaign against illegal drugs.

Last May, five people collapsed and died during an outdoor concert-party in Pasay City, apparently after taking designer drugs.

Based on intelligence information, other illegal drugs reportedly available in the market are fly-high, green apple, green amore, superman, Dr. death and pink death, all classified as amphetamines.

Police said the illegal drugs have the components of Ecstasy, shabu and Cialis or sex enhancement drugs like Viagra.

Dela Rosa expressed belief owners and management of the upscale bars could help in the intensified campaign against illegal drugs.

“If I’ll be able to get their support and cooperation then mas maganda para hindi na hahantong sa kahiyaan, magkakasuhan, magkaparoblema (the better, so there will be no humiliation, filing of cases and other problems),” he said.

The PNP chief said he would welcome any form of cooperation from bar owners and management so that he could help President Duterte fulfill his campaign promise of stamping out the drug problem in six months.

“If they cooperate then why not? If they don’t cooperate, then we will be forced to do our job our own way – our own way, not their way,” he said.

As of Aug. 9, a total of 513 drug personalities or an average of almost 13 persons a day have been killed.

About 116 PNP personnel are facing summary dismissal proceedings after they tested positive for illegal drugs as part of the internal cleansing of the police organization.

PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos said 513 people were killed in 18 regions in the country from July 1 to Aug. 9, based on a report from the PNP National Operation Center (NOC).

Carlos said there were 7,325 drug pushers and users arrested while 543,416 others surrendered to police authorities. Of the surrenderees, 33,527 were pushers and 509,889 users.

He noted that there were 4,715 operations conducted and 265,610 houses visited as part of Project Tokhang.

Dela Rosa is implementing what he called a double-barrel strategy, meaning the PNP is attacking drug lords and street-level drug dealing simultaneously.

The double-barrel strategy is apparently Dela Rosa’s response to criticism that only small time pushers are arrested or neutralized.

Cops fail drug test

But as the PNP is stepping up its anti-drug campaign, 116 of its personnel are facing summary dismissal proceedings after testing positive for illegal drugs.

Chief Senior Supt. Fausto Mansanilla Jr. of the Directorate for Investigation and Detection Management (DIDM) said the 116 were among the 75,964 members of the  PNP who have undergone drug test since July 1.

Mansanilla said the erring personnel are facing further investigation by the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) and have been reassigned to the Police Holding and Accounting Unit (PHAU).

The DIDM official said 35 other PNP personnel are facing investigation after they were named by President Duterte as among government officials involved in illegal drug operations. The policemen reported to IAS on Dela Rosa’s instructions.

He said surrenderees have also taken drug test, but they are still waiting for results of the test.

Mansanilla clarified the policemen who tested positive would be given due process prior to further sanction like termination.

In a press briefing, he said the overall crime volume decreased by 50,134 or 14.68 percent from 341,543 during the first six months of 2015 to 291,409 in the same period in 2016.

“Similarly, the average monthly index crime decreased by 5.44 percent, such decrease of crime volume and in the monthly index crime rate is directly attributed to the increase in crime solution and crime clearance efficiency,” he added.

Meanwhile, four suspected “Ninja cops” were charged by the Department of Justice (DOJ) before a Pampanga court after they failed to account for two suitcases containing 50 kilograms of shabu in a 2013 buy-bust operation.

In a 22-page resolution, the DOJ filed charges against Police Chief Insp. Bienvenido Reydado, head of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (PNP-CIDU) in Pampanga; Police Senior Insp. Romel dela Vega; Senior Police Officer 1 Rommel Raquipiso; and Police Chief Insp. Arnulfo Ibañez and eight other unidentified individuals.

They were charged for violation of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. They are also facing a case for misappropriation, misapplication and failure to account for confiscated and seized dangerous drugs.

CIDU Senior Supt. Albert Ignatius Ferro, was the complainant in the case.

Ferro said upon verification from the PNP Crime Laboratory, Reydado’s group failed to turn over the confiscated drugs.

The illegal drugs were seized in a buy-bust operation on Aug. 28, 2013.

Reydado’s group could also not point out the location of the Hyundai Starex and Toyota Camry seized in the 2013 operation.

Two witnesses who were part of Reydado’s team were reportedly ordered by the police official not to document the operation or process the arrest of Chinese nationals Yang Fang Ping and a certain Tony Sy Chan. The two foreigners were reportedly released.

Authorities armed with a search warrant were able to seize several unlicensed firearms, vehicles and drugs worth P2.6 million at Reydado’s safehouse.

The seized vehicles include a blue Mitsubishi Montero, one Yamaha motorcycle and one Yamaha Mio Sporty. Ferro said the vehicles were not listed in Reydado’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

The DOJ resolution was signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera and Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon and approved by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano. With Evelyn Macairan

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