Metro Manila police chief to be new head of national police force, says war on drugs to continue

PNP’s Oscar Albayalde. (Photo by George Calvelo of ABS-CBN News)

Metro Manila’s top cop is getting a promotion.

Yesterday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced that Metro Manila police chief Director Oscar Albayalde will replace Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa as the head of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“Rest assured that I will not betray their trust and confidence that they gave me, that’s what I can promise them,” Albayalde told reporters in Filipino.

And this means continuing the war on drugs the PNP has been heading since Duterte became president in 2016.

“Definitely, we will continue on with our Oplan Double Barrel and Oplan Tokhang because we know that there is very substantial improvement on our peace and order particularly in the NCR (National Capital Region),” Albayalde said on the news channel ANC yesterday.

This, despite local and international criticism on the government’s anti-drug operations.

According to data from the PNP, the war on drugs has killed about 4,000 people since it started in 2016 but human rights groups said the number is closer to 13,000.

The PNP, as the agency at the frontlines of the war, has been under fire for cops that have allegedly killed drug suspects even when they don’t fight back.

In August, police in Metro Manila’s Caloocan City claimed to have killed 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos out of self-defense, but CCTV footage showed that they were actually able to get a hold of him and even carried Delos Santos to the area where he was eventually shot.

On the same month, Caloocan police officers were also linked to the death of 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz who was killed in a police shootout.

A month after, Albayalde ordered that more than 60 police personnel in Caloocan be relieved of their duties, while the rest of the force was made to undergo retraining.

The entire PNP has been undergoing an internal cleansing ever since October when Duterte removed the agency from heading the war on drugs due to continued criticism. However, Duterte eventually brought the agency back to head the operations just a month after.

While speaking on ANC, Albayalde said he plans to continue the internal cleansing once he is chief of the PNP.

“I think that’s what the president really likes, to discipline our men,” he said.

Police are required to retire by the age of 56 or after 30 years of active service, whichever comes first. Dela Rosa was supposed to retire by January 21 but in December, Duterte said he would like to extend his term for “2 to 3 months” because he wanted to “do some things in Mindanao of utmost importance.”

In February, Duterte said he would like to extend Dela Rosa’s term “for a little bit longer” but did not specify until when. Albayalde is scheduled to take his oath on April 18; he is expected to retire in 2019.

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