Bloody Friday: 13 killed in Bulacan drug ops
MALOLOS CITY—A day after Director General Oscar Albayalde assumed the top post of the Philippine National Police, promising to continue his predecessor’s “Oplan Double Barrel” antidrug campaign, the police in Bulacan province reported that officers had killed 13 drug suspects in separate operations starting the previous night.
The Bulacan operations would continue through midnight on Friday so the police could not give details of the operations in several Bulacan towns and cities, according to Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat, the provincial police chief.
Three of the drug suspects were killed in the City of San Jose del Monte, Caramat said.
Edgardo Lazarte, also known as “Puto,” his companion named “Puso,” and a still unidentified man were shot and killed by policemen at 2:30 a.m. on Friday in Barangay Sto. Niño, according to the San Jose del Monte police.
Two other drug suspects died in Baliuag town while seven others were reported killed in the towns of Pulilan, Sta. Maria, Calumpit, Plaridel, Pandi, Bocaue and San Rafael, and the City of Malolos.
More than 50 drug suspects, including actor Julio Diaz, were also arrested in the police operations in the province, Caramat said.
Albayalde told reporters in Manila on Friday he was not inclined to change anything in the PNP’s campaign against illegal drugs started by retired PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa.
“The momentum and gains of our Oplan Double Barrel and Oplan Tokhang are very good. So why would we stop a program that is very effective?”
He also said the war on drugs had become less “bloody.”
During a 24-hour operation last month, the Bulacan police also killed 13 suspects in gunfights. Ten suspects were killed during operations in February.
In August last year, the Bulacan police recorded 32 dead during a 24-hour antidrug sweep.
“That’s good,” President Duterte said then in reaction to the high casualty figure. “If we kill 32 every day, then maybe we can reduce what ails this country.”
Several police reports obtained by the Inquirer in February showed that the number of drug suspects who “died in police operations” in Central Luzon provinces had declined from 238 (from July to October 2016) to 85 (from Sept. 1, 2017 to Jan. 16, 2018) and down to 27 (from Dec. 5, 2017 to Feb. 18, 2018).
As of February, the Central Luzon police reported launching 8,623 operations, arresting 16,254 suspected drug users and pushers. Another 66,087 drug dependents had surrendered.
In the southern city of Ozamiz, Misamis Occidental province, police chief Jovie Espenido said at least 47 incumbent village officials remained on the police drug watch list, all of them linked to the slain Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog.
Espenido said he had advised them to prove they were no longer involved in drugs and suggested that they not seek reelection in the May 14 barangay elections.
“The people in the barangay know who they are. That’s why I am urging voters not to elect them should they run again,” he said.
He said a large number of barangay officials were still on the watch list but none of them was considered “big time.”
“We have netted most of the big time already, including Mayor Aldong (Reynaldo) and his wife, (former vice mayor) Nova (Echavez) and others. Those who have fled the city had been charged in court and were now being sought by authorities,” Espenido said.
He said among those still being hunted down was former City Councilor Ricardo Parojinog, a brother of the late mayor. The ex-council member, known also as Ardot, carries a P5-million bounty on his head. —WITH REPORTS FROM LEAH AGONOY AND JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE
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