MANILA - The government's campaign against illegal drugs will continue even after Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa steps down, his successor said Thursday.
Metro Manila police chief Director Oscar Albayalde, who is set to take Dela Rosa's place, said he would retain the PNP's primary anti-narcotics campaign "Oplan Double Barrel," including the house-to-house "knock and plead" operation "Oplan Tokhang."
"Definitely, we will continue on with our Oplan Double Barrel and Oplan Tokhang because we know that there is very substantial improvement on our peace and order particularly in the NCR (National Capital Region)," said Albayalde, currently the NCR Police Office chief.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday announced that he has chosen Albayalde to lead the 185,000-strong police force once Dela Rosa steps down.
Albayalde said he is happy with the President's decision though he has yet to receive official communication from Malacañang on his appointment.
Launched under Dela Rosa's term, "Oplan Tokhang," where police visit the homes of drug suspects and urge them to seek rehabilitation, has been the subject of much criticism due to killings linked to the program.
Human rights groups have claimed that some 12,000 drug suspects have died since President Rodrigo Duterte launched his war on drugs in 2016. Data from the PNP places the death toll at nearly 4,000.
Officials have maintained that suspects killed in police operations fought back.
The PNP relaunched Tokhang in January after a pause in the operations, limiting operations to daytime and barring operatives from engaging hostile suspects.
Aside from the anti-narcotics campaign, Albayalde said he would also continue the internal cleansing program and modernization efforts of the PNP.
"We'll continue on with our war on drugs, that's one thing and of course, with our internal cleansing program kasi I think that's what the President really likes, to discipline our men," said the official, who has relieved police officers caught sleeping at stations during his random inspections.
Asked how he plans to handle criticism from human rights groups as head of the police force, Albayalde maintained that the PNP has always been open to investigations.
"We've always been open with the human rights investigation even with Chief Dela Rosa, and I think we will continue on with our program and we will continue to operate with our Commission on Human Rights," he said.