Abalos' call for cops to resign in drugs crackdown 'pampapogi' - watchdog

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 05 2023 11:55 AM | Updated as of Jan 05 2023 12:03 PM

Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos in a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City on Oct. 22, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos in a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City on Oct. 22, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — A rights watchdog on Thursday slammed Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos' call urging police officials to resign for alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.

"I think the Filipinos have a word for this, pampapogi," Human Rights Watch Philippines Senior Researcher Carlos Conde told ANC's "Rundown".

"This is a cynical, political move by Abalos designed to give the impression that the government is cleansing the police ranks," he continued.

For Conde, Abalos' call for police officials to quit is "a step in the wrong direction" in terms of accountability.

"This is kind of a passive move to try to root out the problem," he said. 

"What they should be doing in our view is that one if they really believed that police officers and officials are involved in the drug trade, they should be investigated, charged and prosecuted in court," he added.

Conde said Abalos' call also violates the police officers' right to due process.

"Nobody is stupid to resign en masse just because the interior secretary said so," he said.

What should be done to win the drug war? Rethink the whole idea, Conde said.

"The drug problem is not a police problem. It is a public health problem," he said.

"The only way they can get out of this mindset that every drug user needs to be incarcerated or killed is to adopt and embrace the whole idea of harm reduction," he continued.

Hundreds of top-ranking police were asked to resign Wednesday as the government seeks to "cleanse" the corruption-tainted police force.

Police have been waging an anti-narcotics campaign launched by former president Rodrigo Duterte and continued by his successor Ferdinand Marcos.

Abalos urged all colonels and generals -- about 300 in total -- to offer "courtesy" resignations after a probe found a "handful" were involved in drugs.

They could continue working while their records were assessed by a five-member committee. Those found guilty would have their resignations accepted, Abalos said.

"If you're not involved, there's nothing to worry about," Abalos told a news conference at the national police headquarters.

Anyone who did not tender their resignation would be "questionable," he said.

Abalos described the approach as radical and a "shortcut" after previous investigations into allegedly corrupt officers took a long time and produced few results.

Watch more News on iWantTFC

— With a report from Agence France-Presse