SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

Initial findings by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in its investigation into how the “war on drugs” was waged seem to confirm suspicions that many cops went overboard in dealing with suspects.

Many of the drug suspects, most of them small fry, were killed even if they were unarmed and did not resist arrest.

And the policemen involved, according to DOJ findings, got off with light punishment or were completely gotten off the hook.

It would seem that the Internal Affairs Service of the Philippine National Police (IAS-PNP) went easy on policemen who abused their authority in upholding the law.

An example is the killing of Carl Arnaiz, 19, who was shot dead by two rookie cops when there was no need for it.

Arnaiz was suspected of robbing a cab driver.

The IAS-PNP gave the two cops, Patrolmen Jeffrey Perez and Ricky Arquilita, 50-day suspensions despite testimonies by witnesses that they shot the victim five times in the chest.

“The police operatives (Perez and Arquilita) were found to have employed excessive force and violence,” the DOJ said.

The DOJ probe is continuing.

The abuses were committed during the time of Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who was clueless and irresponsible as PNP chief.

But Senator Dela Rosa’s nincompoopery should not be an excuse for impunity for the abuses committed by his men in the PNP.

The public was a personal witness to Dela Rosa’s seemingly tolerant attitude toward cops who abducted a Korean businessman. The businessman was strangled inside an office in Camp Crame.

While the investigation into the slaying of the Korean was all over the news, Dela Rosa attended a concert where he was seen jumping like a chimpanzee.

When I went with the presidential party to Beijing in October 2016 during President Duterte’s first official visit to China, Dela Rosa was also there.

While we were in Beijing, a police van plowed into a crowd of protesters in front of the US embassy. The incident was recorded on video.

I was expecting Dela Rosa, newly-appointed PNP chief, to take the first available flight back to Manila as – if I were him – I would consider the incident critical.

When I told Dela Rosa about it, he told me nobody was hurt despite a video showing several people being run over by the van.

I shook my head in disbelief after he turned his back on me. I asked myself: “Is this the PNP chief Digong appointed?”

Honestly, I can’t believe until now why this buffoon was elected to the Senate.

*      *      *

Although the public – including this columnist – gloated over the killing of Rolando Espinosa, a big-time drug lord, inside a town jail in Leyte, the cops who did it could have done it with finesse.

As a veteran police reporter, I was shocked at the blatant methods employed in wasting Espinosa.

The cops who executed Espinosa could have taken a leaf from the methods used by Alfredo Lim, Felicisimo “Tulisan” Lazaro, Johnny Lagasca, Vicente Vinarao and Ernesto “Totoy” Diokno of the Manila Police; Rolando Abadilla, Reynaldo Berroya, Panfilo Lacson, Roberto “Bobby” Ortega, Francisco Agudon of the defunct Constabulary Metropolitan Command in disposing of the scum of society in their time.

The extrajudicial disposal of notorious criminals during my time as a police reporter were so refined that subsequent, pro forma investigations found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the cops who carried it out.

Most of the extrajudicial killings during Dela Rosa’s time as PNP chief were, in Tagalog, garapal, and stank for their vulgarity.

Until now, I can’t see the rationale of wasting small-time pushers or street dealers when security forces could have gone after big-time drug traffickers and their protectors who hold high positions in government.

Many of the drug lords are inside the National Penitentiary, and they run their syndicates by remote control.

Some of their government protectors are laughing all the way to the bank.

Why haven’t they been disposed of?

*      *      *

Senator Bato dela Rosa denies that the war on drugs is a dismal failure.

We can’t blame him, because the height of the campaign against illegal drugs was during his tenure as (PNP) chief.

How would Dela Rosa look if he agreed that there were too many lapses when he carried out President Digong’s relentless campaign, so that this country would not become another Mexico or Colombia?

Digong was referring to big-time drug traffickers and dealers, not small-time pushers and users.

Mr. Dela Rosa, what the President said was for you to extirpate – that is, uproot or destroy completely – the various drug syndicates that have taken root in the country.

Yes, there were some big fish who were killed, like Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte, the Parojinogs of Ozamiz City, Sherwin Bautista of Bohol and Melvin Odicta of Aklan.

But they are small-time compared to, for example, a politician in an island in Southern Luzon who maintains a factory that distributes shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) in Bicol and the Visayas.

And how about Peter Lim of Cebu, who has a price on his head? Where is he?

There are many more politicians who are known protectors of drug syndicates, but for one reason or the other are not on the government’s radar.

Most of those killed in the war on drugs were peons or “soldados” (soldiers) in Mexican drug lingo, or just plain users.

Whatever happened to the sprawling rehabilitation centers inside Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija and in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, which were donated by billionaires from Mainland China?

After their inaugurations, nothing has been heard from them.

They were supposed to be used for drug users who should be considered patients or drug victims, not notorious criminals.

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