EXCL: PNP to launch new task group to fight illegal drugs

Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 04 2017 08:18 PM | Updated as of Mar 04 2017 11:14 PM

After suspending anti-illegal drugs operations for almost a month, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is set to launch a new group tasked to spearhead the campaign against illegal narcotics.

The PNP Drug Enforcement Group (P-DEG) will be formally introduced to the public on Monday at Camp Crame where the P-DEG's hotline will also be announced, police officials said.

The group will be headed by Senior Superintendent Graciano Jaylo Mijares, deputy regional director for administration of the Police Regional Office in Central Luzon.

Mijares, a member of the Maringal Class ’88 at the Philippine Military Academy, served under the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force.

In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN, Mijares said, "I’m elated, ready to do the job."

According to Mijares, he is aware of the seriousness of the task ahead, noting that this is a second chance given to the PNP.

"Pinagbigyan ng second chance ng ating pangulo to be part of the team who will be working against illegal drugs. Ibinalik lang ang mandate sa atin na magtrabaho on illegal drugs so I think this time we should not fail kung ano man ang gusto ni presidente. Buti pa nga binigyan niya pa tayo ng pagkakataon na tumulong dito sa ating kampanya," Mijares said.

(The president gave us a second chance to be a part of the team working against illegal drugs. The mandate was given back to us so I think we should not fail the president. It's a good thing he gave us another opportunity to help in the campaign.)

Though a skeletal force is already in place, the P-DEG will be stringent in selecting members, although it is not keen on hiring new recruits, Mijares said.

"Special training din kase ang work sa illegal drugs. I will be selecting people na may background na rin siguro. Mahirap magpapasok ka ng bagong pulis diyan na totally na hindi alam ang trabaho."

(This will require special training. It's difficult to recruit new police officers that totally have no idea what the job requires.)

Despite issues that hounded the now-defunct PNP-Anti Illegal Drugs Group, the P-DEG will still get some of its manpower from the disbanded group due to its expertise.

"Sabi ko nga, 'yung mga walang bahid ng walang negative reports sa kanila, walang mga involvement, walang mga kaso. Hindi naman siguro lahat ng mga miyembro doon sa anti-illegal drugs ay na-involve sa ibang mga gawain, especially sa mga iligal na gawain. Iilan lang naman 'yun, meron namang matitinong nagtrabaho talaga ng totoo," Mijares said. 

(Those whose qualifications aren't tainted by negative reports, if they weren't involved in any case, they'll be considered. I don't think all of them in the anti-illegal drugs group were involved in any unlawful activities. There were a few, but still there were those who actually did their jobs.)

"Sila na yung trained for these . . . We also need them kase hindi basta basta mag-train ng operatives on illegal drugs. Hindi basta basta makipag-link or establish ng network sa illegal drugs, so maybe I will still have to check with the chief kung ano talaga pinaka-guidance niya."

(The members of that group were trained for this. We need them because we can't just train operatives in the illegal-drug campaign. You can't just establish a network to penetrate the illegal-drug trade. We have to check with the chief how he wants to go about this.)

According to Mijares, the war on illegal drugs need not be bloody. 

"Siguro naman paulit-ulit nang sinasabi, huwag lang silang manlaban," he said. "That will not be bloody kung di naman sila makikipagputukan, makikipagbarilan sa mga pulis. Hindi magiging bloody."

(We've said this many times before to them, just don't fight back. This doesn't have to bloody. Don't shoot at police.)

Mijares quietly rose from the ranks.

He was city director of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, provincial director of Misamis Oriental, and deputy regional director for operations of Region 3. 

Mijares said throughout his career, he has always maintained a professional relationship with PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa.

"Naabutan ko din siya sa academy. Upperclass-underclass relationship. Although kilala rin niya ako. We’re both from Mindanao. Although malayo kami, siya sa 11, ako sa 10," Mijares said.

"I have a very, very high respect for the chief, and siguro naman kung hindi rin maganda ang impression ni chief sa akin, hindi niya ako bibigyan ng ganitong opportunity," he added.

Mijares said the key to the success of the anti-illegal drugs campaign is knowledge of all existing operations. 

"Malaking responsibility 'yan, considering na we know what had happened before. I’ll make sure na walang ganyang mangyayari. There will be no operations na hindi ko malalaman," he said.