PNP to focus on internal cleansing, other crimes after shift in anti-drug ops

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — The Philippine National Police will now focus on internal cleansing and crack down on riding in tandem groups as President Rodrigo Duterte shifts its anti-drug duties to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa said Wednesday with the police occupying a smaller role in the country's anti-drug campaign, the PNP will work on cleaning up its ranks and catching other criminals.

"Internal cleansing. Tapos yung mga riding in tandem, bantay kayo ngayon u*****n namin kayo," Dela Rosa said at the sidelines of the Senate budget hearing.

"I will instruct my policemen tutukan nyo yang riding in tandem na yan na yan gumagawa ng masama… Wala kami sa war on drugs hands off kami, kayo paproject-in namin, bantay kayo," he added.

[Translation: Internal cleansing. And those riding in tandem groups should watch out because we'll catch you.

I will instruct my policemen to focus on those riding in tandem hitmen who perform crimes… We're hands off on the war on drugs now so we'll make catching you our project.]

President Duterte on Tuesday signed a memorandum giving PDEA the lead in all anti-illegal drug operations in the country.

The order stated all information received on the drug war will be "relayed, delivered, or brought to the attention of the PDEA for its appropriate action," although it also instructs police to "maintain visibility" as a deterrent to illegal drug activities.

READ: Duterte gives PDEA lead role in drug war

Dela Rosa said now that they've gone "hands off" on the drug war, police can focus on other crimes.

"Hayahay na kami ngayon. You can just imagine, binuhos namin ang lahat halos 100 percent ng resources ng PNP for the last year (sa war on drugs). Eh 'di now we can focus on other crimes," Dela Rosa said.

[Translation: We can relax more now. You can just imagine, we poured everything, almost 100 percent of our resources for the last year on the war on drugs. Now we can focus on other crimes.]

He added, however, he does feel some regret over the "gains" the police have made the past year.

"Yun nga lang nasasayangan ako dahil yung gains, you've already observed noong pinahinto PNP sa drug war, one month ang clamor ng mga tao ibalik ang PNP dahil nagkalat naman mga adik at pusher sa kanilang mga barangay," he said.

[Translation: I do feel a bit sad about the gains. You've already observed how people clamored to bring back the PNP when we were pulled out of the drug war for a month. That was because drug pushers and addicts returned to their barangays again.]

He said the PNP will not dissolve its Drug Enforcement Group yet, but gave no definite answer when asked if they would be allowed to help PDEA in the future.

"Bahala na. Basta hands off kami," he said.

The PNP Chief added, with PDEA taking the lead in the war on drugs, it is up to the Senate to decide what will happen to its proposed ₱900 million budget for Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded-- the administration's flagship anti-drug program.

"Depende sa kanila kung bibigay nila sa senado, kasi di pa natin alam kung ito ngayon wala kami ngayon tapos mamaya maya gagawa na naman ng executive order na ibalik ang PNP," he said.

[Translation: It's up to Senate if they'll give it to us because we don't know if they'll bring us back in later.]

According to the PNP, police have conducted 76,863 anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to September 26, 2017.

An estimated 113,932 people were arrested and 3,906 killed during these operations.

Police have also facilitated over 1.3 million surrenders as of July 25 and cleared 3,500 of drugs as of August 31.

The war on drugs has led to the seizure of some  ₱19 billion worth of illegal drugs, chemicals, and lab equipment, the PNP said.

CNN Philippines' Gerg Cahiles and Ver Marcelo contributed to this report