PNP: Slays to lessen, top gov’t execs, celebrities to be arrested

>> Sunday, October 30, 2016


The Philippine National Police is shifting in strategy in its bloody war against drugs to reduce the killing of suspects and put more resources into arresting prominent people tied to the trade.
This was bared by top PNP officials saying Project Double Barrel Alpha will put a stronger focus on arresting politicians, military, police, government officials and celebrities allegedly involved in narcotics. The new approach will be outlined on Tuesday at a meeting of police chiefs from each of the Philippines’ 18 regions at Camp Crame, the police headquarters north of the capital Manila, Philippines National Police spokesman Dionardo Carlos confirmed to media.
The operation will be launched within days, Carlos said, adding he did not have further details of the new operation.
This came after sources familiar with details of the plan described as “intense” discussions among law enforcement officials about the wave of killings of drug suspects.
The new approach is reportedly being taken now due to public outcry over the wave of extra-judicial killings. A recent poll showed public unease over the deadly anti-drug campaign, with 94 percent of the respondents saying it was important for the police to take suspects alive.
Another component of Project Double Barrel Alpha will see police working with community leaders to clear neighborhoods of drugs and set up local rehabilitation programs.
President Rodrigo Duterte had given police six months to suppress drugs and crime, warning the country was on the verge of becoming a “narco state”. He then extended the campaign, called “Project Double Barrel” another six months to make it a year.
In less than four months since taking office, almost 2,300 people have been slain in the crackdown, according to official figures, revised down from earlier estimates of 3,600.
The majority of the deaths – more than 1,600 – were during police operations, drawing sharp criticism from Western governments, the United Nations, human rights groups and some Catholic priests.
“If you know any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful,” Duterte told supporters the day after he took office on June 30 this year.
Duterte’s comments were condemned by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard. “It is effectively a license to kill,” she said. At other times, however, Duterte has said he doesn’t endorse extrajudicial killings or vigilante murders of drug suspects.
“Who killed them? I don’t know but why are they pointing at me, blaming me for those deaths,” Duterte said earlier this month. Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella earlier said: “Everything that the president said was always in the context of sticking within the law.”
For months, Duterte has also talked about cracking down on major drug dealers, government officials and prominent Filipinos who use drugs, take bribes from drug syndicates or are directly involved.
He has read out the names of 158 government officials with alleged links to illicit drugs. He has also boasted of a broader list of about 1,000 drug suspects.
Police have said they are compiling a list of celebrities accused of being drug users and peddlers.
The counter-narcotics campaign has focused overwhelming on impoverished drug users and small-time dealers, prompting criticism that it’s a war on the poor.
In recent years, government officials who have been arrested for drugs are more likely to be set free than serve any prison time.
Data from the Philippines Department of Justice shows that 715 officials were arrested between 2011 and 2016 on drug matters, including “law enforcers”, elected officials and government employees. Of those, 74 per cent had their cases dismissed, or were acquitted.


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