Carpio questions police memo focusing on street-level drug operations

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Acting Chief Justice Antonio T. Carpio — PHILSTAR

SENIOR ASSOCIATE Justice Antonio T. Carpio has questioned the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) apparent focus on street-level operations in its anti-narcotics campaign and ignoring the drug lords as contained in Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) No. 16-2016.

“The thrust of tokhang is to go against street-users. Explain why the PNP in CMC-16 is concentrating on street-level operations and practically ignoring the drug lords. How come the flagship project of the President is going after the small-time peddlers?” Mr. Carpio said during yesterday’s Supreme Court en banc session for the third oral arguments hearing on cases filed against the administration’s war on drugs.

Mr. Carpio was interpellating against Solicitor General Jose C. Calida, who admitted that President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s priority in his mandate is to go against the small-time peddlers.

“The President mandates to go against all drug users/peddlers. The big-time drug lords are outside the Philippines. First go against the small-time peddlers, second to go against the big-time drug lords,” Mr. Calida said.

Mr. Carpio also questioned the policy that goes after drug retailers instead of the bulk operations and big-time dealers. “Why is the policy to go after the retail and not after the bulk operations? You can control at customs?”

In reply, Mr. Calida said: “We are an archipelago; drugs are dumped into the high seas where they are taken away.”

Not backing down, the high court official said: “If you can control from the ports and from the seas, you can control the drugs.”

In May, P6.4 billion worth of illegal drug shabu (methamphetamine) was discovered by authorities stashed in warehouses in the capital after passing through the Bureau of Customs (BoC).

Meanwhile, Mr. Carpio, ordered Mr. Calida to provide data on the number of people under the so-called “deaths under investigation” and those killed in legitimate operations.

Mr. Calida cited that a total of 3,800 have been killed since the start of the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs in July 2016.

PNP Director-General Ronald M. dela Rosa and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Aaron Aquino, who were invited to the hearing, were not present as they are both in New York for an Anti-Terrorism Conference. — Andrea Louise E. San Juan