More suspected illegal drug pushers, users ‘surrender’ to police before Duterte gov’t assumes

KORONADAL CITY — More and more individuals suspected of being illegal drug pushers, users and peddlers have voluntarily showed up to various municipal police stations in South Cotabato to register their desire to reform, others to clear their names.

As of Wednesday morning, about 130 persons from several South Cotabato towns have voluntarily appeared before police stations and declared they will cease using or peddling prohibited drugs.

Others showed up to clear their names because they were not actually illegal drug dependents, according to Chief Inspector Joel Fuerte, police chief of Surallah, South Cotabato.

It was Fuerte who spearheaded the campaign to get rid his area of operation of suspected illegal drug users and pushers ahead of the coming of Duterte administration.

Fuerte said the police have a list of persons suspected to be engaged in illegal drug activities in Surallah. The list was forwarded to village officials to help the police inform those in the list to reform and stop illegal activities.

The campaign netted 57 as of Wednesday in Surallah alone.

“The pronouncement of incoming President Duterte appeared to have chilling effects on people in illegal drug activities,” Fuerte said, adding that not all those in the list were illegal drug users or pushers.

“But majority were known illegal drug pushers and peddlers,” he said without revealing how many persons were included in the PNP list.

In T’boli, South Cotabato, a 12-hour campaign similar to Surallah PNP activity, has netted 19 individuals who voluntarily showed up to the police office and register their intention to reform.

“They feared Mayor Duterte’s repeated pronouncements on TV and radio that he will take hard on persons in illegal drug activities,” Senior Inspector Jose Marie Simangan, T’boli town police chief.

Simangan said some village officials accompanied those who would like to “surrender” to police.

“The village officials acted as guarantors that the persons in the PNP list were not drug dependents,” he said.

“More are coming out,” Simangan said, quoting reports from village officials.

“Don’t think twice, come out so we can remove your names in the list if you are not into illegal drugs,” Simangan said, adding that “we will give you free counseling.”

“All those who showed up in Surallah were males,” Fuerte said, adding that the campaign has been getting popular among persons engaged in illegal drugs.

“We will help them reform, this is for their own good and not ‘pogi’ points for the police,” Fuerte said.

The local police have released to village chairpersons the names of suspected illegal drug peddlers, users and pushers residing in Surallah’s 17 barangays.

With the Surallah police-imposed deadline of June 15, Fuerte said those in the list but did not show up “are our priority targets.” He assured basic rights of the suspects will be respected “unless they resist violently.”

One of the suspects told police he showed up because his mother wanted him still alive when the Duterte administration assumes power on June 30.

“I fear for my life, there’s still time to reform,” Fuerte quoted one of the suspects as saying in the vernacular.

Impressed by the success of Surallah PNP, South Cotabato police provincial director Senior Supt. Franklin Alvero said the Surallah model is now applied across the province.

South Cotabato is composed of 10 towns and Koronadal City. PNA/