PNP: 'Decisive victory' vs drugs, Reds when Duterte's term ends

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 18) — With just a little over eight months in office, the Philippine National Police hopes to give the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte a "strong finish" for his controversial anti-drugs drive and a "decisive victory" to put an end to the communist insurgency.

Speaking at a virtual media forum on Monday, PMGen Rhodel Sermonia, the head of the PNP Directorate for Operations, outlined the agency's four main priorities in the remainder of Duterte's term.

These are the war on drugs, counter-insurgency, COVID-19 response and the conduct of peaceful and orderly 2022 elections.

'Strong finish'

Despite the International Criminal Court giving the go-signal last month to investigate the Philippine's deadly crackdown on illegal drugs, Sermonia said the PNP is eyeing to give Mr. Duterte a "strong finish" regarding the controversial campaign.

Sermonia pointed out that law enforcement operations have been intensified to cut the demand and supply chain of drugs to meet the June 30 deadline, insisting that "we're almost there. We need to have a strong finish."

He also highlighted the PNP's own drive to support the administration's target of ending the more than five-decade-old insurgency, one of the world's longest running conflicts, by the time Duterte steps down from office.

These include actively backing the operations of the military in going after communist leaders and fighters, and "cutting (rebels') lifelines in the communities" by dismantling their "financial network," as well as their so-called legal fronts.

The PNP boasts of efforts to "counter mobilizations of mass organizations" by launching its own short-term social service programs, especially in areas identified as rebel bailiwicks.

"Hindi po natin pwede sabihin in the next coming months, or in the next four months. Mahaba-haba pa po ang June 30. Pero sa tingin ko, kagaya ng sabi ko, ‘yung decisive victory — abot kamay na po natin," Sermonia said.

[Translation: We can't really say we can end it in the coming months — or in the next four months. June 30 is still a little far off. But in my opinion, like I said, the decisive victory is within reach.]

Aside from supporting the government's pandemic response, Sermonia said the PNP is now busy laying out the security preparations for the 2022 national and local elections.

Their operations include ensuring all PNP members remain impartial, re-examine the list of partisan armed groups, update the list of areas vulnerable to poll-related violence, discourage candidates from paying campaign fees to rebels, and to go after politicians with links to narco groups.