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Lacson bids for ‘vigilance’, Poe raises doubts as PNP retakes ‘drug war’ drive

MANILA, Nov 24 (Mabuhay) — More senators weighed in on the return of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the government’s so-called war against illegal drugs.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former chief of the PNP, believed senior police officials involved in the anti-drug operations have become “more conscious” of the consequences of excesses that policemen could possibly commit in carrying out the anti-illegal drugs campaign under their command.

“It now seems to be the common sentiment shared by many PNP personnel,” Lacson said in a text message to reporters.

Lacson said this was mainly due to the many investigations conducted by the Senate that have exposed human rights abuses like in the killing of Carl Arnaiz and Kian Loyd de los Santos and other similar incidents that put the PNP on the spot and under closer scrutiny by different human rights groups and advocates.

“The rest remains to be seen when the primary task of handling the drug problem is finally given back to them. When that happens, the key is vigilance to always put them on notice that they are being watched,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe said it would be “ideal” if the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) retains its leadership in the campaign versus illegal drugs while the PNP lends its operational muscle to the undermanned anti-narcotics agency.

“Since PDEA is legally mandated to be the country’s primary agency in the anti-drug campaign, it would be ideal if the PDEA retained leadership and the PNP lends its full operational muscle to fill up the lack in manpower besetting the drug agency,” Poe said in a statement.

Poe emphasized that there are doubts on the ability of the PNP to uphold the rule of law as the institution is plagued with accusations of human rights violations.

“We must not forget that the PNP has been involved in too many controversial operations, thus casting doubt on the organization’s ability to uphold the rule of law and respect basic rights,” Poe said.

“With PDEA remaining on top of the operations and with PNP as main support, the government will be able to help rectify the manner or conduct of such operations. This is also consistent with the president’s desire to pursue a more vigorous anti-drug campaign,” the senator added.

Poe also stressed that the PNP should clean its own backyard first, and strengthen its Internal Affairs Service (IAS), which is tasked to investigate erring PNP personnel.

Poe added that the government needs to see the drug problem “from a wider perspective.”

“It should also be considered a health and socioeconomic issue that requires alternative mechanisms to address the drug problem from these angles,” she said.   (MNS)

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