Cops, VACC clash over ‘tanim droga’
CAMP OLIVAS, PAMPANGA— Tension has erupted between the Philippine National Police in Central Luzon and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) chapter in Pampanga province over allegations that policemen had planted illegal drugs on suspects arrested in two drug busts in April.
“Why is VACC claiming that our policemen [in Mabalacat City and Bacolor town, both in Pampanga] are into ‘tanim droga?’ There is no tanim droga. VACC should conduct its own investigation before making any allegations,” Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino, the region’s police director, said during a press briefing on Monday.
Saying he was “angry and emotional,” Aquino defended his men who, he noted, were “demoralized” by a claim made by Pyra Lucas, VACC Pampanga head.
Lucas had claimed that Mabalacat policemen planted “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) on six men they arrested in Barangay Dau in Mabalacat City on April 24.
Lucas, who lost the mayoral race in Mabalacat in 2016, could not be reached for comment.
Aquino relieved Supt. Juritz Rara, Mabalacat police chief, and Senior Insp. Melvin Florida, the city’s drug enforcement unit head, as the PNP’s internal affairs service (IAS) began investigating the incident.
“[Lucas] wants me to throw in Mindanao the policemen she has been accusing of tanim droga. But I adhere to due process,” Aquino said, adding that “VACC always objects to things.”
“Why won’t it (VACC) simply help the police?” he asked.
A local prosecutor dismissed the case filed by the police against the six men, not due to fabricated evidence but because the site of the drug bust was not well-lit for policemen to see the signal indicating they should move in for the arrest.
Police said they were filing a motion for reconsideration.
Aquino admitted that the Central Luzon police were in a rush for accomplishment in the Duterte administration’s war against illegal drugs.
“But we need not resort to doing tanim droga in the face of risks accompanying antidrug operations,” he said.
The Central Luzon police needed to clear 245 villages that have records in drug use and trading. At the start of the campaign last year, more than 2,000 villages in Central Luzon were affected by illegal drugs.
In the Bacolor buy bust, everything was proper, said Supt. Williard Viñas, deputy chief of the IAS in Pampanga. Four policemen, including the town’s police chief, await reinstatement.
Gov. Lilia Pineda said the provincial government would wait for the advice of the Civil Service Commission on the employment of Wilhelmo Galura, 52, a principal suspect in the Bacolor buy bust.
Galura, a provincial government employee, was one of the suspects who claimed he was being set up by the police. He eluded arrest during the police operation on April 26. A police informant said he was seen last week in the company of Lucas.
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