"Drastic moves" to cleanse the Philippine National Police (PNP) were only done now because corrupt practices in the force have reached a tipping point, according to PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa.
“May punto na umaabot na talaga na kailangang aksyunan na. Ito na iyong punto na nakikita ni Presidente [Rodrigo Duterte] na stop muna (We got to a point that action was needed. This is the point that President Rodrigo Duterte saw, that we need to stop for now),” Dela Rosa said in an interview on Tuesday.
Recent events have hammered home for them that the police have to “rethink, reprogram, and redesign” their campaign against illegal substances, because it cleared the way for rogue cops to engineer self-serving plots, he said.
One example was the kidnapping of foreigners, including that of slain Korean Jee Ick-joo, with the act masquerading as a drug bust.
The government’s “Oplan Tokhang” was heavily criticized by human rights advocates and several world leaders for allegedly creating an air of impunity, leading to a rise in extra-judicial killings supposedly done by “death squads” in the country.
Dela Rosa on Monday put a stop to police anti-illegal drug operations to focus on the “internal cleansing” of their ranks.
The Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG), which the policemen behind Jee’s death were part of, was disbanded, and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency tasked to lead anti-drug efforts.
Duterte has long put pressure on the police, which he admitted counts miscreants in its ranks, to straighten up.
He previously linked top police officers to the illegal drug trade.