7 Davao City cops in new drug war axed

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
7 Davao City cops in new drug war axed

MANILA, Philippines —  Seven police officers were relieved from their posts in connection with the deaths of drug suspects in alleged shootouts in Davao City after Mayor Sebastian Duterte declared a war on drugs in the city.

The administrative relief of the policemen came after Philippine National Police chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. ordered an investigation on the supposed armed encounters where seven drug suspects were killed in less than a week after Duterte’s declaration.

“Our chief PNP, through the regional director, gave orders to investigate these incidents and give way to an impartial investigation,” PNP public information officer Col. Jean Fajardo told a news briefing at Camp Crame yesterday.

The PNP Internal Affairs Service has also started its probe into the killings, Fajardo said.

Davao region police director Brig. Gen. Alden Delvo said the seven policemen were disarmed and would be subjected to paraffin testing.

Delvo did not rule out the possibility that more police officers will be relieved from their posts in the coming days.

“We will be investigating all personnel involved in the police operations,” he said in a text message.

The policemen must also explain why it was necessary for them to use their guns in neutralizing the drug suspects.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) had earlier expressed grave concern over Duterte’s statement patterned after his father, former president Rodrigo Duterte.

Fajardo said the PNP is open to an investigation by the CHR, stressing the police force will not hesitate to sanction police officers found to have killed drug suspects in cold blood.

She added that even the policemen’s supervisors could be held liable under the doctrine of command responsibility.

“Rest assured that all those accountable would be held liable, including their team leaders, supervisors and field commanders,” Fajardo said.

Since January, a total of 28 drug suspects were killed in alleged shootouts with policemen, while 424 were arrested.

Around 202 grams of shabu valued at P1.37 million and seven loose firearms were confiscated.

Doubled efforts

The Davao City Police Office (DCPO) has admitted to doubling their efforts to quash illegal drugs in the city after last week’s war on drugs pronouncement of Mayor Duterte.

“The pronouncement of the mayor has created a huge impact in our anti-drug operations and we are doubling our efforts to combat drugs,” DCPO spokesperson Capt. Hazel Tuazon said during Tuesday’s press conference.

She said the pronouncement of the mayor served as a standing order to DCPO. However, no extra funding is given to the police office to implement this order.

Tuazon said the war against drugs is not new to them, and added it is not easy for the police to kill drug suspects.

“We are not happy that there are suspects who chose to fight the police and get killed,” she said.

Since the mayor has declared a war on drugs, seven drug personalities, two of them high value individuals at city level, have been killed in police operations.

For her part, Police Region XI spokesperson Maj. Catherine dela Rey echoed the statement of Tuazon, saying that it causes extra hassle for them whenever a suspect dies.

“We have to face an investigation and explain whenever a suspect dies,” Dela Rey said.

The CHR has initiated an investigation into the reported drug-related killings, but Dela Ray said their office has not received any formal queries regarding this.

The families of the suspects are also welcome to file a complaint against the police if they suspect foul play, Tuazon said.

However, not one of the suspects’ families has filed a complaint since the war on drugs was declared by Mayor Duterte.

Tuazon also added that Oplan Tokhang, which was started during the term of then mayor Sara Duterte, sister of the current mayor, is still in effect.

She clarified that Oplan Tokhang does not involve threatening the drug users, but only asking them to stop using drugs. –  Diana Lhyd Suelto

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