THE top cop who has maintained that President Duterte’s order for him when he was designated as the 26th chief of the Philippine National Police was simply to ‘do what is right, do what is legal’ on Monday vowed to fully cooperate with the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation in investigating 152 policemen involved in anti-narcotics operations that left 52 suspects dead.
DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier ordered the NBI to to determine the criminal liability of 154 policemen involved in antidrug operations that led to the deaths of 52 suspects saying that even the PNP Internal Affairs Service has noted that the policemen involved were both criminally and administratively liable for their acts.
“As Chief of the Philippine National Police, I cannot allow and I cannot ignore all of these to persist because what is at stake here, more than credibility that we want to protect, is the honor and dignity of the police organization especially in the eyes of the young and future generations of Filipinos,” Gen. Eleazar said in the wake of the DOJ chief’s statement.
“This serves as our motivation here in the PNP to work closely with the Department of Justice to conduct review of all drug-related operations in the interest of transparency and accountability. After all, we are bound by the strict ethical rules, legal provisions and high moral standards in everything we do as public servants,” he added.
The Duterte administration’s war on drugs since July 1, 2016 has already resulted in the conduct of nearly 214,000 anti-narcotics operations to date which led in the arrest of over 307,000 suspects including 1,008 government employees broken down into 390 elected officials, 120 uniformed personnel and 498 government employees; the seizure of over P65 billion worth of shabu and other prohibited drugs and the dismantling of 893 secret drug dens and shabu laboratories.
Those operations also led in the killing of 6,191 persons from July 1, 2016 to last August 31 including over a dozen policemen who were shot dead by armed drug dealers.
Last September 28 alone, Police Staff Sergeant Karl Marty Manzanilla of the Dasmariñas City Police Station in Cavite was killed while a colleague, Patrolman Ariel Maribojo was wounded after being shot by a heavily-armed suspect during a botched buy-bust operation.
Gen. Eleazar has ordered the Police Regional Office 4-A headed by Brigadier Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz to use all their available resources to arrest three suspects led by one Marlon Pacia who managed to flee after firing at the lawmen.
Four other cohorts of the three have been arrested and are now facing criminal charges.
Gen. Eleazar said the incident only proved that drug suspects would really fight back against authorities and kill them just to evade arrest, contrary to various claims that they are among the victims of the war against illegal drugs.
“Ang nangyaring madugong engkwentro sa Cavite ay pagpapatunay lamang na palaban at seryoso ang banta ng mga nagtutulak ng droga at isa sa mga napakaraming patunay na hindi maaamong tupa at mga biktima ng umano’y human rights abuses ang mga ito na gaya ng gustong palabasin ng iba,” he said.
Fully supporting the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency headed by Director General Wilkins M. Villanueva in the fight against illegal drug trafficking and abuse, the PNP has been hit by criticisms left and right regarding abuses being committed by its men in the conduct of anti-drug operations since 2016.
“Sa nakalipas na limang taon, naging kakambal na ng aming maigting na kampanya laban sa iligal na droga ang mga pagdududa at alegasyon sa halos lahat ng aming matagumpay na operasyon na nag-resulta sa pagsasantabi ng aming mga hirap at sakripisyo laban sa mga sindikato ng iligal na droga,” Gen. Eleazar said.
“Gaya ng ipinangako ko at ng buong liderato ng Pambansang Pulisya, umuusad na ang imbestigasyon sa mga kaso na sa tingin mismo namin ay nagkaroon ng pagmamalabis sa kapangyarihan at mga paglabag sa aming Police Operational Procedures—and this refers to 52 police operations involving 154 of our uniformed personnel,” he added.
Gen. Eleazar said that as part of their commitment to fully cooperate with the DOJ, he has ordered the creation of a top-level PNP Coordinating Group that will work closely with the NBI in the conduct of case build-up and filing of criminal complaints based on the evidence that would be gathered.
The composition of the PNP Coordinating Team shall be announced in the soonest possible time, he said.
“Likewise, more cases will be subjected to review as agreed by the DOJ and the PNP under the guidance of our SILG, Eduardo Año. We assure the Filipino people that your PNP will remain committed in the search for truth in all of these cases and right now, we believe that we are on the right track in pursuing this commitment,” the PNP chief said.