Pangasinan policemen given only 3 months to win war vs. illegal drugs

DAGUPAN CITY — Police in Pangasinan, as in other parts of the country, were given only three months to clear the province of illegal drugs, otherwise the chiefs of police as well as the provincial director will be relieved.

The six-month deadline was given by President Rodrigo Duterte to clear the country of illegal drugs but in the case of the new PNP chief, Director General Roland de la Rosa, he has given us only three months starting July 1, said Supt. Jackie Candelario, deputy police provincial director and concurrently spokesman of the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office.

Asked if they can meet the three-month deadline given by the Chief PNP, Supt. Candelario said: “This is a big challenge to all of us and we are counting on each one to do their part.”

Speaking during the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters sa Pilipinas (KBP) forum on Thursday, Candelario said every man in the police service in Pangasinan knows the deadline and will do his best to stop this menace if they want to stay longer in their respective posts.

He said they will implement ‘Oplan Katok’ on the houses of drug personalities and persuade them to give up their illegal drug activities.

So far since July 1, the police arrested 75 top drug personalities in 59 anti-drug operations as well as through the service of search warrants in various towns of Pangasinan, while 80 others, including users and runners voluntarily surrendered.

In those operations 27.925 grams of shabu valued at P181, 500 were seized.

Ostensibly, the number of persons who voluntarily surrendered does not yet include the more than 500 who Barangay Captain Rico Mejia of Bonuan Gueset in Dagupan City claimed to have surrendered to him and signed a covenant to now stop their illegal drug activities.

He said many are still volunteering to surrender in the next few days but clarified that surrendering and signing promises do not mean outright removal of their names from the watchlist since the subjects will still be monitored with the help of their barangay captains and eventually recommended for rehabilitation.

Candelario, meanwhile, added that a person who gets out from the rehabilitation center will be continuously monitored to find out if he really abandoned illegal drugs. This means that the name of the person will not be automatically removed from the drug watchlist once he gets out of the center.

But noting that most of those being arrested and even those who voluntarily surrendered come from poor families and cannot afford the high cost of rehabilitation, Candelario expressed hope that local government units could come in and help their constituents get rehabilitated.

The surrender of the suspect and the promise signed by him, Candelario explained, will even make it easier for the police to monitor the activities of the suspect and this time. The barangay captain as well as the local officials can stand as witnesses against the person.

At the same time, Candelario told newsmen that since July 1, three drug personalities were already killed in a legitimate police operations that happened in Dagupan City when they resisted arrests, and a fourth drug personality was killed by so-called vigilante group identifying itself as “DDS.”

On internal cleansing, Candelario said that new OIC police provincial director Roland Oliver Lee has ordered random drug testing, starting with members of the anti-illegal drugs special operations task group in the provincial, city and municipal levels as well as members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT).

He said the random drug testing will go down the line in all police stations till all the policemen in Pangasinan are covered, warning all those who would be found positive of illegal drugs of administrative case to be filed against him and possibly his outright dismissal from the service.

The new OIC police director is also planning to seek the mayors and their councilors in 48 towns of Pangasinan to also undergo drug testing to show to the public they are not taking illegal drugs. Candelario, however, was asked by newsmen to persuade the officer-in-charge of the police provincial office to include barangay captains, councilmen and their employees to also take the same test. PNA/