Duterte orders all checkpoints dismantled
MANILA — President Duterte has pulled the plug on checkpoint operations by state forces, saying such security arrangements have only caused public inconvenience, especially in Mindanao.
Mr. Duterte gave out the order a day after Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, in Maguindanao province, and nine of his men were killed in a supposed gunfight with the police in a security checkpoint in Makilala, North Cotabato province.
The Chief Executive said on Saturday in Cotabato City, that from thereon, police would only conduct checkpoints “only if it is necessary, only if there is specific reason to do it., But, he said, “I am ordering all checkpoints dismantled.”
“And that is for the entire country. I do not want these checkpoints,” he stressed.
The President, who led the launch of the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, noted how military and police checkpoints had hampered travel in southern Philippines.
He lamented that even rebel groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the communist New People’s Army had put up their own security blockades in areas which they controlled.
“If there’s a suspect or you know there’s a probability or A1 information, (then you can set up a checkpoint),” he said. “But if you’re not sure, then don’t do it.”
Added the President: “To the MILF, if you don’t have any purpose, don’t use checkpoints. It’s also the same with the MNLF… It only brings problems to the Filipinos.”
During his speech, Mr. Duterte briefly mentioned Dimaukom’s death, but opted not to comment on the matter. Nevertheless, he reiterated his administration’s fierce drug war, which had led to the deaths of nearly 4,000 individuals.
Dimaukom, who was named by Mr. Duterte as among 150 former and incumbent government officials with links to the narcotics trade, was slain in what the local police claimed was a legitimate checkpoint operation last Friday.
Known for his uncanny fondness for the color pink, which he described as the color of love and peace, Dimaukom and his vice mayor-wife Anida had turned themselves in to Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa in an effort to clear their names.
Last month, the police swooped down on the couple’s residence, but failed to recover any illegal drugs or firearms.
According to the police, the mayor and his security escorts were transporting illegal drugs from Davao City to Cotabato aboard three vehicles when they were flagged down at the checkpoint.
Dimaukom and his men allegedly fired at the policemen. After the purported exchange of gunfire, only 13 sachets containing methamphetamine hydrochloride were recovered from their vehicles.
The vehicles also yielded only six firearms, mostly handguns, contradicting the police claim that Dimaukom’s group was heavily armed. SFM
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