EconomyEditor's PickCops in drug trade an ‘open secret’ — Barbers 

January 5, 2023

THE INVOLVEMENT of some law enforcers in the illegal drug trade has been an “open secret,” said Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace S. Barbers as he expressed support to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) chief’s strategy of asking top-ranking police officers to file a courtesy resignation while an investigation is carried out.    

“We are not generalizing them; we just know that there are a few police officers possibly in the illegal drug trade. I believe that DILG Secretary (Benjamin D.) Abalos is doing the right thing to cleanse the branches of the police against illegal drugs,” Mr. Barbers said in a statement in Filipino.  

Mr. Barbers, whose late father Robert Z. Barbers was a police officer and DILG secretary during the Ramos administration, cited the recent case of a police officer who was apprehended in possession of a ton of methamphetamine, locally known as shabu, worth P6.7 billion in Manila.  

“As chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, I am in full support of DILG Secretary Abalos’ call to ‘cleanse’ the ranks of senior police officers who may have been ‘infected’ or involved in the illegal drug trade,” he added.   

SenatorRamon B. Revilla, Jr. said the DILG’s call shows that no one is “untouchable.”    

“This will show that everyone is accountable and no one is untouchable,” Mr. Revilla said in a statement.  

DUE PROCESSOn the other hand, Ephriam B. Cortez, secretary-general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said revamping the police force without due process is only a temporary solution to the country’s drug problem.  

“What they should do is to identify, investigate and prosecute those involved in the case, including the retired officers who were involved,” Mr. Cortez said via Messenger chat. 

Mr. Cortez said that streamlining officers without proper investigation and prosecution “will only foster impunity.” 

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III expressed a similar position saying the DILG secretary’s call was “too broad and wide,” and undermines cops who have been doing their jobs well.   

“It covers not only the bad eggs in the PNP (Philippine National Police) like those involved in drugs, but also those who are totally innocent and even those who are outstanding in their police work,” Mr. Pimentel said in a Viber message.  

“Why not just proceed on a case-to-case basis and charge those police officers against whom the DILG Sec already has the evidence? Individualized approach not wholesale,” he said. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan 

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