‘Boosted’ by Duterte, Caloocan mayor declares own war vs drugs
MANILA — Following the vision of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte towards a society free of illegal drugs and crime, Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan has ordered the city police to go all-out against illegal drugs and work for the apprehension of big-time drug lords based in the city.
“Duterte’s pronouncement against illegal drugs is like a turbo booster for us mayors to push harder our efforts to jail members of all drug syndicates,” Malapitan said in a statement.
“We will hunt and crack down on everyone who is associated with drugs. We will not stop until we completely diminish drugs in Caloocan,” he added.
Senior Superintendent Bartolome Bustamante, Caloocan City police chief, said his men got the courage to go after pushers, users and manufacturers of illegal drugs from the mayor and Duterte who has prioritized the elimination of drug syndicates in the country.
“If the head will speak, others will follow. Before, policemen are apprehensive to go after big-time anti-drug law violators; now we know we have a backup,” Bustamante said.
As of the May 2014 data of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, all barangays (villages) in Caloocan City, have been infiltrated by the illegal drug trade to varying degrees. Twelve of the 188 barangays in the city, are seriously affected, meaning there is at least one suspected drug laboratory or warehouse in the barangay.
Meanwhile, 48 barangays are moderately affected–meaning there is at least one pusher in the barangay — while 128 are slightly affected or there is at least one identified drug user in the area.
Like Caloocan City, all barangays in Navotas have also been affected by illegal drugs to varying degrees. Eighty five percent of the barangays of Malabon City have been infiltrated by the drug trade, while 51.52 percent of Valenzuela City’s villages have drug pushing problems.
To implement the all-out war, Bustamante said he would implement the Caloocan City’s anti-drug plan, including drug supply and demand reduction, civic awareness and response, and interagency cooperation.
The first step is Oplan Katok, patterned after Davao City’s own operations vs illegal drugs. Under Oplan Katok, Caloocan police operatives will literally knock on the doors of suspected drug dealers to tell them to stop their illicit trade. The second step will be surveillance. Drug trade suspects who would not stop even after the warnings would be arrested, said Bustamante.
The Caloocan City police chief, however, stressed they would not resort to vigilante-style killings or summary executions of crime suspects. “(But) We are not the type who will kill unjustly. The all-out war will be based on the law. We will only shoot suspects who refuse to surrender, and fight back,” Bustamante said.
Bustamante said they would focus on the 12 barangays without Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADAC).
While Malapitan has targeted big-time drug pushers and drug lords, Bustamante admitted they would start with street-level pushing.
An anti-narcotics operative for 10 years, however, expressed pessimism about the operation: “This is a good move. But why only now?” (With a report from John Christian Alvarino, Inquirer trainee) SFM
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