By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent
It was likely that President Rodrigo Duterte was exaggerating when he sought the cooperation of the communist rebels in the government’s fight against drug trafficking, and suggested to them to kill the drug lords for a faster solution to the problem, said incoming Senate President Koko Pimentel.
Asked if Duterte was serious in his order to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), Pimentel reiterated the “preposterous” remarks of the President while campaigning in the May 9 elections. He said “Duterte, then a candidate, had said if it is a wild suggestion, do not believe it.”
Pressed if Duterte was not serious in this pronouncements, Pimentel replied, “most likely, most likely.”
He also said Duterte was not talking to the CCP-NPA. He said the President was, actually talking or communicating to the drug lords to mend their ways “because everyone, sooner or later, will be against you.”
“That’s how I understood it,” said Pimentel who believes the CCP-NPA will not follow this or carry this out. Pimentel also said the communist rebels have their own systems.
“And we should arrest all of these drug lords against which we have evidence, try them and put them in jail. That’s what we should do to have a closed case,” he said.
Furthermore, he said, policemen can also point out that those arrested are in jail.
He noted that the power to arrest lies with the police. But in some instances, he said citizens’ arrest can be carried out if the crime is being committed directly against a person.
“Only our courts established in accordance with the law have the power to try and give binding punishment,”. he said.
Senate President Franklin Drilon said the NPA cannot enforce the law because they are not the government.
“We only have one government. We only one law enforcement agency. We have only one court. That should enforce the law,” he further said.
But in a statement, leaders of the CPP said they have ordered the NPA to arrest and even kill drug traffickers if they resist, in line with Duterte’s campaign against drug trafficking.
“While the CPP does not accept his reference to the duly constituted people’s courts as ‘kangaroo courts’ and reiterating rights of criminal suspects to due process, the CPP and the revolutionary forces accept President Duterte’s offer of anti-drug cooperation,” the CPP said in a statement.
At rites to mark the turnover of command at the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Duterte sought the cooperation of the communist rebels in the government’s fight against drug trafficking.
“Well, the NPA is listening. What if you try them in your courts?” Duterte said in Tagalog. “I don’t know if they are kangaroo courts or otherwise but why not just kill them so that we can find a faster solution to our problem? If you encounter them and they are committing a crime in your presence out in the jungle, just go ahead and finish them.”
The CPP vowed to intensify its war against illegal drugs. It said the NPA is ready to give battle to those who will resist arrest with armed violence.
The communists said the NPA has long sought “to disarm and arrest the most notorious criminals including the biggest drug traffickers, in order for them to be subjected to prosecution and just punishment.”
Chief Insp. Arnold Ongachen, chief of police of Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental, was seized by NPA rebels on May 29 for alleged drug trafficking.
Upon learning of Ongachen’s alleged involvement in drug trafficking, Duterte said he would not bother to ask for his release and just let the rebels decide on his fate.
The CPP said Ongachen “is currently under detention and undergoing investigation for involvement in the illegal drug trade.”
“The proliferation of illegal drugs, especially shabu, and the concomitant rise in incidents of violent crime serves the perpetuation of the ruling system. The biggest and most notorious drug traffickers are those in the top echelons of the AFP and PNP, who are also in cahoots with key officials in the local and national bureaucracy. It is apparent that President Duterte is fully aware of this,” the CPP said.
“Historically, the colonizers and ruling classes have deliberately encouraged the propagation of drugs as a means of de-sensitizing the oppressed and exploited masses. Drug abuse numb them of the acute effects of poverty, hunger and state violence. Drug abuse disunites the people and prevents them from effectively carrying out revolutionary struggle,” it added.
As this developed, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa recently disclosed that nine cops tested positive for illegal drugs during a surprise drug test at their first command conference last week.
However, he declined to give the names of cops who were found positive for using illegal drugs but said they were from regional offices. He said they will be dismissed from their posts and shall face administrative raps.
He said the PNP Crime Laboratory conducted the random drug testing among 2,405 personnel including 75 high ranking police officials. But the hierarchy officers yielded negative results.
He said the drug test intends to show transparency in the organization and ensure the public that PNP high officials are capable of being role models in leading the fight against illegal drugs.