Central Luzon police chief: Shame campaign vs drug dealers, or death

PAMPANGA, Philippines – The new officer-in-charge of the Central Luzon police plans to implement a so-called shame campaign against drug dealers in his entire region.

Chief Superintendent Aaron Aquino told reporters at Camp Olivas on Monday, June 20, that a shame campaign has been working in the province of Bataan.

"The shame campaign is being led and conducted by the village officials and residents themselves," said Aquino, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985.

"I personally witnessed how effective it is in combating the illegal drugs menace that I decided to implement it in the whole region."

Aquino said he went to Balanga City last week and observed how residents, some of them carrying placards, gathered in front of the houses of 4 suspected big-time drug dealers in different villages. The residents demanded that the alleged drug dealers stop their illegal activities and surrender immediately.

Overwhelmed by the crowd, 3 of the suspects decided to surrender to police on the spot, while the last one did not go out of his residence but surrendered to authorities the next day.

"'Yung isang identified drug pusher, hindi namin alam nasa tabi lang pala namin during a shame campaign. Pauwi siguro nung makitang may nagtitipon at sumisigaw na mga tao sa harap ng bahay niya kaya lumapit para tingnan kung ano'ng nangyayari. Nung may makakita sa kanya, tinuro siya. Nung tanungin namin kung gusto niyang sumurrender, sabi niya, 'Opo.' 'Kailan ka su-surrender?' tanong namin. 'Ngayon na po,' sagot niya," Aquino said.

(One of the identified drug pushers, we didn't know he was just near us during a shame campaign. He was probably on his way home when he saw people had gathered outside his home, shouting, so he came closer to see what was happening. Someone spotted him. We asked him if he wanted to surrender and he said yes. 'When will you surrender?' we asked. 'Now,' he answered.)

Aside from a shame campaign, Central Luzon's top cop is also eyeing other measures against illegal drugs.

These measures, he said, are in place in Davao City, where he held several positions for 22 years.

"These include knocking on the doors of verified drug pushers and asking them to stop their illegal activities and gathering all suspected drug pushers and telling them to stop selling drugs or face the consequences," Aquino said.

He said those who would heed the call will be given the chance to undergo rehabilitation. Those who refuse, however, would face jail or even death, according to the police chief.

"So don't be surprised anymore if many criminals will die within 3 to 6 months. If they fight back, they will surely be killed," Aquino said.

He added that their fellow cops and also government officials involved in the drug trade would not be spared.

"Our incoming president [Rodrigo Duterte] and the incoming director general of the Philippine National Police [Ronald 'Bato' dela Rosa] both hate drug lords and drug pushers. But what they hate more are the police officers involved in drugs. I also hate these kinds of men in uniform who are a disgrace to the institution. They deserve to be killed," Aquino said. (READ: Duterte's 'Bato': Who is Ronald dela Rosa?)

Aquino added: "If an ordinary person would be killed if he fights back, a mayor or any government official who would do the same will get the same treatment. They will not be treated differently just because they are government officials."

The police chief's tough stance echoes that of Duterte, who is known for his iron-fist approach to criminality in his hometown, Davao City.

Duterte ran on an anti-crime platform, and following his victory in the presidential race, bared more details of his plan to combat drugs. These include a P3 million bounty for the capture or death of drug lords as well as armed personnel per barangay to crack down on drug syndicates.

Earlier this month, Duterte also warned cops involved in drugs that he would have them killed.

Last May 31, Dela Rosa said that Duterte's promise of suppressing crime and drugs in 3 to 6 months is attainable. Dela Rosa said he would order the police to "apply the full force of the law" against criminals, especially those involved in the drug trade. – Rappler.com