MANILA – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said the Philippine National Police did not prepare for its all-out war against narcotics, likening them to attack dogs let loose without adequate training.
"Ang naging difference kasi dito, nauna yung talagang anti-illegal drugs operations. Parang walang preparation," Lacson told ANC's “Beyond Politics.”
(What happened here is that the anti-illegal drugs operations came into effect without preparation.)
"Pardon the analogy... bago mo pakawalan yung mga aso sa cage, i-train mo muna, di ba, na hindi ito yung mangangagat nang mangangagat kundi systematic yung gagawin nila dahil dumaan sa training. Ito nabigla na pinakawalan mo lahat so kanya-kanya,"
(Pardon the analogy. Before you let the dogs out of the cage, train it first not to attack anyone but to attack systematically. What happened was there was no training.)
Lacson, a former PNP chief during the Estrada administration, said he fears that the pronouncements of President Rodrigo Duterte himself may have emboldened rogue cops in the campaign against illegal drugs.
He said he advised PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa to first initiate an "internal cleansing' even before the top cop assumed his post.
"Even before he took over, noong namimili pa si Pres. Duterte, he invited me and over dinner sabi niya "Sir, maa-appoint ako eh, hingi lang ako ng konting advice sa'yo." Sabi ko, alam mo naman ang gagawin na kasi ginawa na rin natin noon. Attend first to the internal discipline. Yun na muna ang tignan mo." Yun ang takbo ng usapan namin," Lacson said.
(Even before he took over, when Pres. Duterte was selecting his top cop, Dela Rosa invited me over to ask for advice. I told him to attend first to internal discipline.)
Lacson recalled that he prioritized internal cleansing among police ranks when he led the PNP. Lacson served as PNP chief from 1999 to 2001.
In his assumption speech as PNP chief, Lacson told police men to return "all carjacked vehicles within two weeks or else."
"We were able to gather something like 650 motor vehicles," he recalled.
"And then we attended to the anti-kotong operations. It came to a point na -- and this can be attested to by jeepney drivers, taxi drivers, commuters -- na talagang nawala yung kotong sa kalsada."
("And then we attended to the anti-kotong operations. It came to a point na -- and this can be attested to by jeepney drivers, taxi drivers, commuters – that there was no more mulcting on the road.)
"And then of course sumunod yung physical fitness, yung 34-inch waistline," Lacson added, referring to his move to impose 34-inch waistline cap and fitness regimen for police personnel.
The incumbent PNP chief has declared a halt on the government's all-out war on illegal drugs following reports that several police officers have been using the anti-drug campaign to commit kidnap-for-extortion and other crimes.
Dela Rosa on Monday directed all police units to halt anti-narcotics efforts and put priority instead on the "internal cleansing" of its ranks. The PNP is set to create a counter-intelligence task force that will carry out its "war on scalawags", he added.