Despite Duterte’s remarks: No ultimatum, no revamp for Talisay police
Iris Hazel M. Mascardo (The Freeman) - January 21, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  President Duterte has named Talisay City as a haven for illegal drugs in Cebu on at least different occasions, but despite the tagging, the provincial police are not bent on giving the city police an ultimatum.

The reason why Cebu Provincial Police Office Director Colonel Roderick Mariano is not giving a specific timeline for Talisay police is because drug-clearing takes time –  weeks or even a year is not enough – and a lot of effort.

Nevertheless, Mariano assured that there won’t be any letup in the police operations against illegal drugs in Talisay.

The CPPO chief noted that when compared to data from the previous years, illegal drug activities in Talisay have dwindled now but remain “not fully eliminated.”

Thus, he has ordered the augmentation of police forces in the city to ensure police visibility.  This as he observed that the most common way to sell drugs in Talisay is through street pushing, especially in the slum areas.

“Then again, the President still said that meron pa rin. Naniniwala naman tayo na meron pa ring drugs but comparing to the last year, mas masyado pang nag-reduce na siya, but then meron pa rin,” Mariano told reporters at a press conference yesterday.

No revamp

Duterte, in his speech at the Sinulog Grand Parade on Sunday evening, once again mentioned Talisay as a place in Cebu where drugs are rampant.

“Ang druga kusog kaayo sa Cebu. Ang Talisay, wala na nay pahuway. Naa ang tanan dihang kabuang. Hasta inyong mga deputy directors, naa sa druga. Mao tong daghang gipangpatay diri nga chief of police (Drugs are widespread in Cebu. In Talisay, the illegal drug trade is relentless. All forms of mischief are in there. Even deputy directors are into drugs. That’s the reason why many chiefs of police were killed),” he said.

But Talisay City police chief, Major Gerard Pelare, stands firm that no police officials or officers under his watch are into illegal drugs.

“I have no information during my time na there are officials that are (protectors), as far as I know. They have been very cooperative, although it is apparent that there is a need to improve the assistance given, especially in the identification of drug pushers and in the campaign,” he said.

Because most of his men were newly installed, Pelare is not also entertaining the idea of implementing a revamp of his personnel at this time.

He likewise lauded the local government for being “very cooperative” with their operations.

Talisay police have been revving up the campaign against illegal drugs recently. The week before Sinulog, in a four-hour operation dubbed as Oplan Limpyo Talisay, police arrested about 50 suspects and personalities linked to illegal drugs, including four members of the Obrero family – three siblings and the mother, who were allegedly among the top drug distributors in the city.

Yet Pelare said the drug war in Talisay is not limited to the actual police operations alone. He said they also conduct regular feeding programs to the children of the arrested drug suspects.

With the public’s help, the police chief is confident that Talisay could finally redeem itself soon.

“I hope the good citizens of (Barangay) Tanke will not keep quiet. Instead of keeping their mouths shut, they should side with the law enforcement agencies because if they keep on keeping their mouths shut, because they are afraid, then they will be the ones to suffer,” Pelare said.

Such community involvement is also what Mariano would like to see more from the people. Hence, the thrust of the police nowadays in the drug war is to focus on community engagement and seek community support in helping solve the problem.

“We’re doing that every day. We are engaging the community. The police are always there to coordinate with the barangay chairmen, sa mga barangay officials and even with the local executives,” Mariano said.

‘Not being ignored’

As for Mayor Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas, Duterte’s recent remarks about Talisay will serve as a “challenge” for the authorities to improve on their strategies onwards.

Gullas, in a Facebook post, assured that as top city executive, he is not ignoring the drug problem until it is properly addressed.

“Despite the president’s pronouncement, I assure our constituents that we are not lazily ignoring these problems. I agree with our president that the illegal drug problem in our city remains a pressing issue, especially in Barangays Tanke, San Roque and Sitio Mananga in Tabunok,” the mayor said.

Gullas recalled how the previous set of city police officials had to be replaced about two years ago for their supposed tainted reputations.

“When my grandfather was mayor back in 2018, our entire police station’s personnel had to be revamped, except for the police chief after the president announced that police officers assigned in our city were tainted with illegal drugs,” he said.

“Since then, our war against illegal drug sellers and suppliers has been relentless,” he added. (FREEMAN)

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