By Aaron Recuenco
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) should focus more on running after big-time distributors of illegal drugs behind the proliferation of shabu in Metro Manila and other parts of the country, the top police official in the metropolis said.
For Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, director of the National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO), the illegal drugs syndicates, through their trusted henchmen that carry huge quantity of shabu, should be blamed for the continuous problems of illegal drugs and not the recycling of confiscated shabu by merely a handful of erring cops.
Eleazar was reacting to the statement given by PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino during a Senate hearing on Monday that the main reason the illegal drugs problem are still existing is due to the rampant recycling of confiscated shabu by the so-called ninja cops.
“We appreciate the support that the PDEA has given us in our joint operations against illegal drugs. However, with all due respect, I cannot agree completely with PDEA Director Aaron Aquino’s statement in the Senate hearing yesterday (Monday) that the main reason illegal drugs still proliferate is primarily due to the recycling of drugs by policemen themselves,” said Eleazar.
“Unless they can identify to us these said policemen with validated reports, the sweeping statement made by the PDEA director are not necessarily true, on face value,” he stressed.
In stressing his point, Eleazar cited the two recent accomplishments of the drug enforcement unit of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) that led to the death of Edgardo Labay on Sunday and the arrest of Manolito Carlos on Monday night.
The operation that led to the arrest of Carlos and the confiscation of some P204 million worth of shabu was an offshoot of the buy-bust that led to the death of Labay.
Both Labay and Carlos, according to Eleazar, are connected to illegal drugs syndicates which are being operated by convicted drug lords detained at the National Bilibid Prison.
Eleazar explained that if PDEA’s allegation that the main supply of shabu at least in Metro Manila are recycled ones by erring cops, then how would they explain the more than 40 kilos of shabu seized from Carlos and Labay.
“Clearly, it is these big-time distributors and huge quantities that sustain drug proliferation not only in Metro Manila but in other regions as well,” said Eleazar.
“This is where our drug agencies, like the PDEA, should now focus on. Where are these coming from? Who are responsible? How do these people get away with bringing in such voluminous amounts of drugs in the country? Why is there a continuous huge supply available for distribution? How do these volumes come into Metro Manila?” he added.
Isolated and limited
Eleazar admitted that while there are indeed policemen who still engage in recycling of illegal drugs, the official said there are only a handful of them because of the aggressive internal cleansing.
“Admittedly, there may still be isolated and limited cases of drug recycling here in the ranks of the Metro police force, but I do not believe these are rampant enough to constitute the primary reason for the continuing drug trade in Metro Manila. In fact, I would like to believe that this drug recycling malpractice is not existent anymore,” said Eleazar.
For his part, Eleazar cited how he relieved the entire drug enforcement units of Quezon City Police District – from district level down to the police station levels – when he assumed the top post three years ago.
This was backed by intelligence-driven operations that led to the relief of more than 500 policemen at the QCPD, some of them were re-assigned to other regional offices while some were slapped with both criminal and administrative cases.
“My belief was that the old personnel in these units were inadvertently contaminated by the malpractices involving illegal drugs – including recycling, hulidaps, and kidnapping for ransom by rogue cops. My strategy was to make sure that new, fresh and clean police officers will wage the honest battle against illegal drugs,” said Eleazar.
When he was named NCRPO chief in June last year, Eleazar said he also initiated drastic actions against all policemen involved in illegal drugs, including what he described as wholesale relief of all members of the entire unit and/or all the personnel of the police station where the scalawags belonged.
“This is because I maintain that where there is a police scalawag, others around him may be contaminated. Also, by virtue of command responsibility, I have relieved police station commanders, chiefs of police, and one district director,” said Eleazar.
As a result, the NCRPO chief said that every policeman of the NCRPO is wary of his fellow cops and in fact are keeping an eye on his fellow cops since inaction or tolerance of illegal activities would certainly include them in wholesale punishment scheme.
“As a result of this policy, our police personnel in all levels now maintain a keen eye on their companions for fear of getting penalized and their jobs jeopardized because of possible indiscriminate practices of the man next to him,” said Eleazar.
“No policeman now hesitates to come to us if they know of irregularities in their midst, especially on drugs. Every policeman is now alert and vigilant, and fully aware of his surroundings. As a result, the NCRPO has not recorded any drug-related incident involving its active members in the past several months,” he added.
He also cited the participation of the public which would send complaints via text messages or social media against erring policemen.
“That is why the claim of PDEA that the primary reason for the proliferation of drugs in Metro Manila is due to recycling by policemen defies logic. The aggression and ferocity by which we have dealt with these past narco-cops is enough to instill dread and fear among our commanders and our ranks,” said Eleazar.
“Clearly, too, the matter of policemen recycling business must be extremely isolated, if not non-existent at all, in Metro Manila. For sure, it cannot be the primary reason for drug proliferation in the metropolis. In any event, the NCRPO is handling these limited cases very well internally, and need not take the precious time and attention of the Senate of the country,” he stressed.