All for show? VACC raises questions about rise in drug arrests, slays

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 23 2016 12:02 PM | Updated as of Jun 23 2016 12:48 PM

Members of the Philippine National Police Special Reactions Unit aims their pistols at a target range during an agility test inside a police station in Metro Manila. Reuters

MANILA - An anti-crime watchdog on Thursday raised questions about the rising number of drug-related arrests and killings in the Philippines, saying some police officers may be going overboard and not targeting the "big fish" in the war against drugs.

"Masyadong substantial, hindi believable," Arsenio "Boy" Evangelista, spokesperson of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, said in a radio dzMM interview.

"Parang sumobra, naging moro-moro, sarsuwela."

Evangelista said that while the efforts are appreciated, the PNP should also focus on high value targets in the drug war.

"Ang gusto po namin, makita dito 'yung mismong mga law enforcers. 'Yung mga men in uniform na lumalaban sa kanila, napapatay nila na involved sa mga illegal drugs... mga high profile targets na gusto nating makita," he said.

At least 40 drug suspects have been killed since President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's May 9 election victory, compared with the 39 deaths recorded in the four months before it.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said there have been over 3,700 drug-related arrests from May 10 to June 15, 2016.

Duterte has vowed an intensified campaign against the drug menace and has given government authorities three to six months to curb criminality all over the country.

Bodies pile up as PH cops show new boss they're tough on drugs

AGAW ARMAS?

Evangelista also questioned why so many drug suspects are killed allegedly after trying to seize the guns of arresting officers.

Police data earlier showed Central Luzon has the most number of drug suspects killed at 25, followed by Davao Region, Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani. General Santos City), Central Visayas and Metro Manila.

The VACC official said the rise in killings could actually impede the government's war against the drug menace by eliminating potential sources of information. No less than Duterte has said at least three police generals have alleged links to drug syndicates.

"Laging may dead end, laging napuputol. 'Yun po 'yung kinakatakot natin dito. We might lose this golden opportunity na malaman natin kung sino ba 'yung 3 heneral [na tinutukoy ni Duterte], sino ba 'yung mga mayor, law enforcers, big time personalities involved sa drug distribution," Evangelista said.

"'Yung golden opportunity, baka mawala kasi kina-cut off nila agad," he said.

OPEN THE 'BLUE BOOK'

Meanwhile, Evangelista said it might be the right time to open a "blue book" obtained in a 2011 raid by the PNP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

He said this "blue book," which contains a list of names of big-time carjackers and drug pushers in the country, might provide substantial leads in the fight against illegal drugs.

READ: DILG urged to release carjackers' ‘blue book’

Evangelista said the document is with the DILG for some time now, and there has been a subpoena duces tecum awaiting the signature of the Senate president.

"Nakaka-frustrate. Dismayado kaming mga biktima. Pipirmahan lang 'yun para ma-Senate hearing yung blue book na 'to," he said.

Evangelista said the VACC hopes big-time drug syndicates would be suppressed, if not eradicated, under a Duterte administration. with Reuters