Less than a month after being commended for its contribution to President Rodrigo Duterte’s notoriously violent war on drugs, almost the entire Caloocan City Police Station in the Philippines is to be relieved of duty and sent for retraining.
“Continue your good service to the country, be good examples… Despite our [shortcomings], we certainly are not slowing down especially the war on drugs,” Police Chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa told the officers on August 18 while issuing their commendations for the “highest number of arrested/neutralized top most wanted persons and high-value targets,” as well as the “most number of firearms confiscated in 2016.”
In the intervening 29 days since the ceremony, Caloocan police have been involved in three fatal shootouts with three teenage suspects: Kian delos Santos, 17, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19, and Reynaldo de Guzman, 14. The killings caused outrage and major protests in the Philippines.
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All officers involved in the shootouts have now been relieved of duty pending internal and criminal investigations.
In addition, a group of officers allegedly robbed a 51-year-old woman during a warrantless drug raid on September 7 that was captured on CCTV reports the Philippines Inquirer.
The woman had been identified as a drug pusher by a man arrested earlier that day. Police allegedly stole PHP 30,000 ($584) worth of cash and watches from the house.
“From what we have seen this has been done or will continue to be done by others so it is best to implement this preemptive measure to avoid similar incidents,” Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde told reporters after the footage emerged, as cited by The Philippines Star.
“The reshuffle is a drastic measure but we have to do this to keep them away from their sphere of influence and prevent them from involvement in criminal activities in the future,” Albayalde added.
15 police officers involved in the operation and subsequent robbery have been placed in custody pending both administrative and criminal charges.
“I don’t see a reason why you cannot understand the law and our policy. Our IQ isn’t that low, right? Suffer the consequences of your action. You wasted the opportunity given to you by the government to serve as policemen, not robbers,” Albayalde told the disgraced officers.
Friday’s ‘relief order’ covers roughly 1,200 personnel of the Caloocan Police Department and will be executed in several batches, starting with the officers who carried out the illegal September 7 raid.
The next two sections to be sent for ‘retraining’ were both involved in the shootouts.
Only the newly-appointed Chief Senior Supt. Jemar Modequillo and his deputy for administration, Chief Insp. Ilustre Mendoza, were spared the purge at the scandal-ridden department.
Modequillo took officer on September 5 after his predecessor was relieved following the shooting death of Kian Loyd delos Santos on August 16, reports The Philippines Star.
Over 7,000 people have been killed since Duterte’s now 15-month long drug war began the day he took office, reports Human Rights Watch.