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Philippine cops arrest 8,183 drug suspects


PHILIPPINE police arrested 8,183 drug suspects in 6,044 illegal drug operations from the start of the year to Feb. 11, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Monday.

Law enforcers seized P530 million worth of illegal drugs during the period, national police chief General Rodolfo S. Azurin, Jr. told a livestreamed news briefing. 

“The PNP is addressing all of these law enforcement and public safety concerns while continuously addressing our internal house cleaning as accountable public officials,” he said.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr. earlier said Mr. Azurin would join the five-man committee that would look into the records of top police officers who might be involved in the illegal drug trade.

Last month, the interior chief called on all colonels and generals to resign after a probe found many top police officers were involved in illegal drugs.

Mr. Azurin said the team would meet this week to discuss the evaluation of senior police officers.

“We will also discuss how we intend to finish the job in less than three months with the data we have at hand,” he said.

After the review, the committee will submit recommendations to the National Police Commission, which is headed by the Interior chief.

The five-man advisory body is composed of Mr. Azurin, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, ex-Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, retired police Major General Isagani R. Nerez and a fifth person who declined to be named, Mr. Abalos said on Feb. 1.

The country’s top cop, who quit his job on Jan. 5, earlier said the committee should be composed of people outside the police and Department of the Interior and Local Government to ensure fairness.

Mr. Abalos said Mr. Azurin could help “steer the committee” because he has access to intelligence reports on the police officers.

Police seized P30.9 billion worth of illegal drugs in 37,000 raids last year, the presidential palace said last week, citing a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency report. More than 53,000 drug suspects were arrested during the raids.

PDEA was reducing drug demand through community-based rehabilitation programs and information campaigns that provide information on drug abuse, the palace added.

At least 25 policemen have been charged with murder in connection with ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s anti-illegal drug campaign, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla told the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in November. An inter-agency task force on extralegal killings had investigated at least 17,000 cops.

In November, the Philippines accepted more than 200 recommendations from the UN Human Rights Council, including investigating extralegal killings and protecting journalists.

More than 30 member-states of the UN body urged the Marcos government to do something about these. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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