MANILA, Philippines – Katipunan bar-goers were alarmed late night Wednesday, September 13, when policemen suddenly switched on the lights and asked them to open their bags for inspection.
Distraught from the incident, the Katipunan community, aired out their concerns online, surprised by police supposedly invading the privacy of their long-time "happy places".
For Quezon Police District chief Chief Superintedent Guillermo Eleazar, however, the operations were all done aboveboard. Why? Barangay officials themselves asked for it.
"Sa totoo lang, request ito ng mga barangay officials kasi doon may mga establishments [na] may possible illegal activities na ginagawa...During the barangay ugnayan (dialogue)., it was agreed upon that the police will conduct Oplan Bakal," Quezon Police District chief Chief Superintedent Guillermo Eleazar told Rappler in a phone interview on Thursday, September 14. (This was a request from the barangay itself, because there are establishments there where illegal activities may be done.)
Oplan Bakal (Oplan Metal) is the Philippine National Police's (PNP) project to stop the proliferation of illegal firearms. Oplan Bakal authorizes the police to raid establishments without warrant or schedule, so long as they have proper coordination with the establishments.
According to Eleazar, the establishments consented to the recent operations through the association of bar owners along Katipunan.
Addressing the angered Katipunan community, Eleazar said that police indeed cannot open bar-goers' bags without consent. (READ: If you're arrested or detained, know these rights)
"Hindi kami pwedeng kumapkap it should be volunteer sila mismo, they will open the bag para ipakita. Ganon talaga (We cannot frisk people. They should volunteer, and open their bags themselves to show. That's how it should be done)," Eleazar said.
If anyone sees abuse by the police, Eleazar said, they may forward their concerns to himself, sharing his official contact number at 09178611870.
Katipunan's clubs are not the first entertainment establishments whose parties were stopped by cops. (READ: 'War on drugs' begins in BGC, Makati bars)
In August 2016, no less than PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa led the men in blue in hopping among bars in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) to tell party-goers who may be engaging in illegal activities to stop or else.
The raids in bars in Makati and Quezon City were done as a show, according to both Dela Rosa and Eleazar, that the unrelenting war against criminality and illegal drugs were not limited to impoverished communities. — Rappler.com