October 23, 2019 (10:31 AM)

4 min read


Three years ago, Philippine Pres. Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, implementing the infamous war on drugs as one of his flagship platforms. As lives and stories of victims of the drug war become mere statistics, the current administration remains relentless in realizing its goal – a drug-free Philippines.

However, what happens when the enforcers of such policy themselves become the perpetrators of acts that violate the President’s war on drugs?

Last September, an issue which involves the name of Philippine National Police Chief General Oscar Albayalde has once again been opened to the public eye. In a senate hearing regarding Good Conduct Time Allowance law, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong revived the issue on “ninja cops.”

During Albayalde’s command as Pampanga chief of police in 2013, a number of his men submitted only 38 kilograms of shabu instead of 200. On top of that, they also arrested a fallout guy after being bribed with P50 million. 

These “ninja cops” only surrender half of the seized drugs during an operation to make it seem that the amount of drugs seized is less to be used for future operations or sold. Even before Duterte’s administration started, “ninja cops” already existed but it became more of an issue now that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino has confirmed that the tactics of “ninja cops” are still very rampant in some enforcing agencies amid the rigid drug war.

This issue hits closer to home as the administration does not only champion itself for their war on drugs but also for their corruption-cleansing. In this case, however, this administration needs to do more backyard-cleaning than they think they do.

The administration has once again failed to see that the enemy is not the people. They should be protecting the people against those who use their power for their own benefit. Albayalde, nonetheless, is innocent until proven guilty even if that incident happened under his command responsibility but is Albayalde really innocent, though? Knowing that this happened under his command “without his knowledge,” is he really free from the faults of his officers? Isn’t not knowing the actions of his cops a sign of his negligence?

It seems ironic that the administration appointed someone of the background of Albayalde knowing their flagship platforms. And no, this is not about people being able to change but it is about the public office being a public trust. 

More than that, the drug war, itself, is already problematic. It diminishes the struggles of the victims as an effect of a criminal justice issue rather than an issue of public health. Where most of the victims are those in poverty, the drug war only antagonizes those who need help the most instead of considering different social, economic, and health factors. The issue on “ninja cops” only makes it more damaging and dubious. 

Three weeks earlier than his compulsory retirement, Albayalde decided to resign amid the “ninja cops” controversy. Before all his efforts as the PNP chief go down the drain, Albayalde chose the most pragmatic choice for him and for his office – to control the damage and to exit before the verdict. Because of this, Albayalde is still eligible for all his retirement benefits which amount to millions.

Four days after his resignation, the Senate blue ribbon and justice committees endorsed that Albayalde and the other 13 cops involved in the 2013 operation be charged for violating RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act for alleged misappropriation of drugs.

This has only reinforced the fact that corruption is still very much prevalent in the system. It took them six years to revive the case and to disclose the dirt of top cops. Now, the State is starting to be given the justice it deserves but will the State remember this until justice has been served? Or will this take another six years to be re-exposed? 

With something as hypocritical as “ninja cops” embedded in the system of the Philippines, the war on drugs of the administration becomes more anti-poor than it already is. Three years after the administration took office, it has not yet realized its flagship platforms and continued to uncover the disappointments in our system. When will our system stop failing us?

About Johanna Vaughn Dejito - Perspectives

Political Science student of the Ateneo de Davao University and currently one of the News Editors of Atenews.

End the silence of the gagged!

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