With the Philippine National Police (PNP) ordered “hands-off” on the anti-illegal drug operations, PNP Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa said the police body can now focus on cracking down on other crimes.
On Tuesday, October 10, President Rodrigo Duterte named the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as the “sole agency” in charge of the government’s war on drugs amid public outrage over alleged police abuses.
Under the new order, the PNP’s task in the drug war is now limited to “maintaining police visibility.”
“The PNP shall, at all times, maintain police visibility, as a deterrent to illegal drug activities leaving to the PDEA, however, the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations as aforestated,” the president’s memorandum read.
In a media interview at the Senate, Dela Rosa welcomed the transfer of responsibility to the PDEA. He vowed that the PNP will now concentrate on other crimes, as well as on cleansing its ranks.
“Yes! Hayahay na kami ngayon (We’re relaxed now),” Dela Rosa told reporters.
“You can just imagine, finocus namin halos 100 percent resources of the PNP for the [past] year, finocus namin lahat sa war on drugs, do’n naka-focus we focused (all of our resources on the war on drugs for the [past] year). We can now focus on other crimes,” he added.
The Duterte administration has been the center of public scrutiny due to the deaths of drug suspects — especially of minors like 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, who was killed in a police operation last August.
Critics of the administration also blamed the drug war killings for the recent sharp decline of Duterte’s public satisfaction and trust rating.
A recently released Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results showed that Duterte’s public satisfaction rating dropped sharply by 18 points — from +66 in June to +48 in September from +66 in June. His net trust rating, on the other hand, suffered a 15-point drop from the previous +75 or “excellent” rating in June to +60 or “very good” in September.
The poll results likewise showed that 54 percent of Filipinos believe that majority of the drug suspects killed did not really fight back, contrary to police’s claim that the suspects violently resisted arrest.
In an interview on Wednesday, October 11, Dela Rosa apologized for the decline in the satisfaction and trust ratings of the president.
“We feel guilty, kung totoo ’yon na naging dissatisfied yung mga tao dahil kay presidente dahil sa war on drugs na ginagawa namin (if it’s true that people are dissatisfied at the president because of the police’s war on drug), we feel guilty,” the PNP chief told reporters.
He added, “We’re very guilty. Sorry. Sorry na kami ang nagbigay ng dissatisfaction sa mga tao (we’re to blame for people’s dissatisfaction) towards the president.”