MANILA -- To further intensify the government's crackdown on illegal drugs, the Special Action Force (SAF) should be included in the anti-drug campaign, especially against high-value targets or big-time drug lords, a ranking official of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, the PNP’s chief of Directorial Staff, cited the police commando’s unquestionable integrity in his speech during the graduation of six classes from SAF courses on Friday.
“I firmly believe that you (SAF commandos) are the most qualified unit to run after big-time drug lords. The discipline, the bravery and the integrity you have make you the most qualified warriors that President Duterte has been looking for to finally finish off the illegal drugs problems in the country,” he said.
Eleazar admitted the government's aggressive campaign against drugs has always been marred by the involvement of some policemen as protectors of drug syndicates or in drug-recycling activities.
This is the part where the SAF would fit in, he said.
“As members of the police elite force, you are PNP’s last bastion of integrity. The kind of discipline that you have been molded into, the warrior that was brought out from each and every one of you, and the tried-and-tested integrity that your senior has shown make you the worst nightmare of drug lords,” Eleazar said.
He said the involvement of SAF that he envisions is more on operations since the intelligence aspect will still be at the hands of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and police anti-narcotics operatives who are trained on it.
SAF commandos are highly-trained in combat and the most equipped in terms of firepower.
Eleazar said that if SAF commandos are deployed to run after drug lords, this would make the illegal drugs campaign more aggressive against high-value targets.
Eleazar, however, said the decision still remains with the President as their commander-in-chief.
He said the illegal drugs business is indeed a multi-billion peso industry in the country, which makes drug cartels and drug lords continue to operate despite the aggressive government campaign.
“Illegal drugs are threat to national security and drug lords are the worst enemies of the State. So the President is right, this is already a war,” Eleazar said.
“Having seen the success of the President's war against illegal drugs, I, in my personal and current official capacity, shall intensify my efforts to win as many battles in this war (against illegal drugs)," he said.
Earlier, Duterte said he wanted the government’s anti-narcotics units or the next PNP chief to focus more on big-time drug offenders.
He said it was not enough to be presented with a list of contenders for the next PNP chief because he was expecting a “better deal.”
Duterte said the three police generals on the list of contenders for the next PNP chief are “all good”.
“They are all good. I want a better deal. It is not enough that you recommend to me,” Duterte said in a televised interview.
The three contenders for the top police post are PNP officer-in-charge, Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, deputy chief for operations, Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan and Eleazar, who is former Metro Manila police director. (PNA)