Estrada wants arrest of 16 local gov’t officials, policemen involved in drugs hastened

MANILA  — Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada on Tuesday ordered Manila Police District (MPD) director Senior Supt. Joel Coronel to hasten the operation against 16 “high-value” targets (HVTs) to serve as example to other unscrupulous city officials that are into drugs.

The MPD announced earlier that they are investigating 16 local and national government officials in Manila, including police officers allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

“Government officials who are involved in drugs do not deserve any mercy. They’re even worse than the ordinary street pushers because they took an oath to uphold the law and serve the people,” Estrada said in disgust.

Estrada assured Coronel of his full support in going after the 16 HVTs in the MPD’s drug list.

“We will support you all the way. We will provide whatever you need, so long as these targets are put behind bars,” he told Coronel.

Recently, Estrada procured PHP20-million worth of brand new firearms for the MPD policemen on top of the PHP45-million fund he released for the allowance of the 4,652-strong city police force.

Since his assumption to office in 2013, he has allotted PHP1.9 billion for crime prevention program, which includes PHP136 million in back allowances of MPD members and the procurement of 41 new mobile patrol cars and 110 electric personal transporters.

In an interview late Monday evening, Coronel said the 16 HVTs, whom he said are “public servants”, are from the Manila City Hall, barangay, national government offices based in Manila, and from the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“They’re both elected and appointed (officials). Some are drug users, coddlers, traffickers, or protectors, including from the PNP,” Coronel bared.

“We have been monitoring them. Once we are done with the validation and it proved positive, we will conduct an operation – either entrapment, arrest or neutralization,” he said.

Coronel said they identified the 16 high-profile drug suspects (HVTs), other arrested drug suspects, and those who surrendered and provided most of the information which were backed up by records from the MPD’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Division and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

In the past two weeks, 38 drug suspects have been arrested while 200 surrendered in the MPD’s sustained anti-drug and criminality operations, according to Coronel. Lily Ramos/PNA –