MANILA - The Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group (PNP-DEG) has begun preparing and equipping its operatives for their possible return to the government's anti-drug campaign.
Members of the anti-drug group came in full force attending refresher courses on the PNP manual, specifically guidelines in conducting anti-drug operations. New and long-time operatives underwent 160 hours of intensive training within a month.
The first batch of 50 police operatives graduated on Friday, while training of the second batch has begun. The PNP-DEG aims to put some 200 operatives through the refresher course.
"Bago pa naman inalis ang mandate, bago inalis ang operation, the PNP-DEG has been prepared for the work. We want to make it better para mas efficient or effective ang work namin," said PNP-DEG Director Chief Supt. Joseph Adnol.
The training was conducted by members of the Department of Justice, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, the PNP Crime Laboratory and representatives from the intelligence community.
The training also included a diagnostic test where police trainees were given three scenarios to assess their capabilities and understanding on how to properly handle anti-drug operations.
"Ang emphasis po natin ay 'yung sa investigation kasi doon lagi ang problema, especially doon sa sinasabing chain of custody ng pieces of evidence. May mga maseselan na procedure doon na kapag 'di nasunod ng imbestigador natin, sa prosecutor pa lang ay madi-dismiss 'yung kaso. 'Yun ang isa sa tiningnan natin," Adnol said.
The PNP took a backseat in the anti-narcotics campaign in October when President Rodrigo Duterte tasked the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to take the lead, just as the police force continued to draw criticism over alleged abuses in drug raids.
This prompted the PNP to terminate "Oplan Tokhang," its controversial house-to-house knock-and-plead operations against drug suspects.
The PNP-DEG chief said drug personalities again thrived when the police force was relegated to a supporting role in the anti-narcotics campaign.
"May indication talaga na bumabalik ang mga nagpu-push ng drugs especially sa mga streets," Adnol said.
"Some of my men have observations na 'yung dati nilang minamanmanan ay naging active na naman. Of course, we're not authorized to operate, we just provide PDEA information about it," he added.
Upon the PNP's return to the frontlines of the campaign, Adnol said there is no guarantee that the war on drugs would be less bloody.
"Hindi naman natin sasabihin na wala nang mamamatay because this is police work, of which we enforce laws. And if there [is] resistance and danger to lives of our police, hindi natin maiiwasan na may insidente ng may namamatay," he said.
Amid international criticism over deaths under the drug war, the PNP earlier said there has been no recorded extrajudicial killing under the Duterte administration.