Philippine president sacks 18 police officers allegedly linked to illegal drugs trade

Aie Balagtas See
Philippine president sacks 18 police officers allegedly linked to illegal drugs trade Police officers stand in formation along the road leading to the House of Representatives, where President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was to deliver the State of the Nation Address, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, July 24, 2023.
[Basilio Sepe/BenarNews]

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. sacked 18 high-ranking police officials for suspected ties to the illegal drug trade a day after he pledged to weed out “unscrupulous law enforcers,” his office said Tuesday.

Marcos accepted the officials’ “courtesy resignations,” which the government had called for in January, saying narcotics syndicates may have corrupted senior leaders of the police force.

The officers are “allegedly involved in illegal drug activities” and were on a list provided by the National Police Commission Ad Hoc Advisory Group, which investigated the matter, the presidential office said.

The 18 were among 935 police officers who had earlier tendered their resignations as part of the force’s cleansing program, national police chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda said. Among them are three police brigadier generals, while the rest are colonels.

They are being restricted to their barracks and continuously being monitored pending an investigation, Acorda added. The measure was “to preclude them from exerting further influence and, or performing illegal activities using their positions.” 

He added that he “recommended the non-acceptance” of the resignations of the lower-ranking police officers.

“It’s a no-no that we get involved in it [illegal drugs] and let’s take advantage of this as a mode of really coming up with a better image for the Filipinos,” Acorda said.

Dirty cops have no place in the organization, he added.

In January, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. called for all full-fledged police colonels and generals to file courtesy resignations.

The call stemmed from the arrest of a police sergeant during a drug operation in Manila in October 2022 that yielded more than a ton of methamphetamine hydrochloride.

The request from Abalos came six years after Marcos’ predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, directed the national police to carry out a war on drugs that killed thousands of Filipinos, mostly from poor communities.

On Monday, Marcos told Congress that his administration would endeavor to put a “new face” to the anti-drug campaign started under Duterte.

“It is now geared towards community-based treatment, rehabilitation, education, and reintegration, to curb drug dependence among our affected citizenry,” the president said in his State of the Nation Address.

“Unscrupulous law enforcers” involved in drug trafficking had been identified, Marcos added.

“I will be accepting their resignations.”

Those who are sacked would be replaced by “individuals with unquestionable integrity, and who will be effective and trustworthy in handling the task of eliminating this dreaded and corrosive social curse,” he said.

Still, police were under orders to “relentlessly continue our fight against drug syndicates, shutting down their illegal activities and dismantling their network of operations,” Marcos said.

The Philippine president faces questions over justice related to Duterte’s drug war, which left about 8,000 suspected drug addicts and dealers dead, activists have said.

Last week, the International Criminal Court turned down a Philippine appeal to block an ICC investigation into the drug war. 

Reacting to that ruling, Marcos on Friday said that Manila would no longer deal with the ICC nor cooperate with it “in any way, shape, or form.”


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