By Daniel Llanto
FilAm Star Correspondent

The Philippine National Police (PNP) admitted that murder cases and other major crimes surged in the first three years and three months of the Duterte administration but only because of the bloody campaign against illegal drugs.

Data presented by the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said more murder cases were recorded under President Duterte than during the time of his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III.

In the Metro Manila Regional Peace and Order Council meeting in Pasig City, NCRPO Regional Operations Division Chief Col. Ramon Pranada noted that there were 4,295 murder incidents from July 1, 2016 – a day after President Duterte took oath office – until Sept. 26, 2019. This is 60 percent higher than the 2,682 incidents recorded from April 2013 until June 2016 under the Aquino administration.

NCRPO Chief Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar attributed the increase in the surge of murder cases to drug syndicates out to purge their own ranks.

“We have reports and information that they were the ones killing each other. And even scalawag police personnel, they themselves were involved here,” Eleazar said.

“Most of the crimes being committed are associated or are with the involvement of illegal drugs. That’s where we are focused,” he said.

But Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the committees on Justice and Human Rights and Blue Ribbon, put the blame elsewhere. Gordon said there is turf war between the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) that enables drug syndicates to operate with impunity.

In a radio interview, Gordon said his investigating panel will disclose the disagreements between both agencies that leave a gap for erring cops to manage illegal activities.

“Correct. And you will be surprised. There are lots (of information) that will be disclosed.

It’s starting to come out and it happened in a region,” Gordon said when asked if PDEA and PNP are clashing on the government’s operations in line with the administration’s drug war.

“There is no cooperation. There is no teamwork. They work separately,” he added.

“We will send some subpoenas to some police generals to shed light on these incidents. We are not assuming anything. We are still investigating,” Gordon said.

In a previous Senate hearing, former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Chief and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong disclosed there were “rogue” cops involved in drug-recycling modus operandi called “Agaw Bato.”

He disclosed further details in an executive session with senators, which were eventually allowed to be made public.

The copy of the session’s transcript was transmitted to President Duterte and the details might be made known during the continuation of the Senate investigation.

Gordon said the information Magalong told them involved 14 police officials, including some active high-ranking official, while some are already retired from service.

PNP Chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde was dragged into the issue because he was previously relieved as provincial director of Pampanga for command responsibility after his subordinates were accused of recycling illegal drugs.

Albayalde, however, denied speculations, explaining that the issue was also a “recycled” matter.

Three days before Magalong’s testimony, PDEA Director Gen. Aaron Aquino admitted that recycling of narcotics is still rampant among law enforcers but he excluded his unit from the money-making scheme.