DEG chief makes u-turn on PNP war vs drugs

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    PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa yesterday disputed a statement supposedly made by the head of the PNP Drug Enforcement Group that the PNP’s so-called “ultra-violent” approach in the war on drugs had not been effective.

    “Of course, as long as they (suspects) fight back,” Gamboa said a press briefing after being asked whether the PNP strategy against drugs is effective, contrary to the pronouncement of DEG chief Brig. Gen. Romeo Caramat Jr.

    Gamboa was referring to illegal drugs suspects shot by policemen during anti-drug operations.

    A Reuters report had quoted Caramat as saying that “Shock and awe definitely did not work. Drug supply is still rampant.”

    He was also quoted by Reuters as saying users could still buy illegal drugs “anytime, anywhere” in the country.

    Caramat was also quoted as suggesting that instead of arresting or killing low-level pushers and couriers, they should be monitored in the hope they will lead policemen to “big drug bosses.”

    Gamboa said Caramat has denied making that statement. “He denied that news already,” Gamboa.

    PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac quoted Caramat as saying: “I challenge Reuters that if they have evidence to prove that I said all those things, I am more than willing to be relieved immediately.”

    Banac said Caramat “denied all the statements attributed to him (by Reuters), saying he was totally misquoted.”

    Banac said the PNP campaign against illegal drugs had been proceeding without let-up.

    “The supply reduction strategy remains the backbone of this police campaign although the focus has been shifted from the street level peddlers to the higher level dealers engaged in the trafficking of commercial quantity of drugs (shabu) 50 grams or more,” said Banac.

    Since 2016 when President Duterte assumed the presidency, Banac said the war on drugs has shut down 14 clandestine crystal meth laboratories and 419 drug dens throughout the country.

    “So far there are no more signs that indicate local production of methamphetamine products in the Philippines,” said Banac.

    “Translated into operational terms by police units, the strategy was able to take off the streets an estimated 5.1 tons of shabu, 2.2 tons of marijuana, 500 kgs of cocaine and 42,473 ecstacy pills, all estimated by DDB (Dangerous Drugs Board) to be worth P40.39 billion,” added Banac.

    From 2016 to 4th quarter of last year, Banac said a total of 151,601 anti-drug operations, resulting in the arrest of 220,728 drug law violators, including 8,185 high-value targets, and death of 5,552 drug personalities.