Briones: Going after scalawag cops

Publio Briones

WHAT will happen to the three police officers of the Waterfront Police Station in Cebu City who tested positive for illegal drug use during a surprise random drug test conducted last month?

I know that Police Regional Office 7 Director Debold Sinas already reassigned them to the Regional Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit.

But what now?

I think that’s a fair question, considering what has transpired in the last three years since President Rodrigo Duterte declared an all-out war against illegal drugs.

Hundreds, no, thousands of suspected drug personalities have died since. Some in legitimate police operations and some in dubious circumstances.

So it’s disturbing to learn that even though the government is mired in a bloody anti-drug campaign, some members of the Philippine National Police turn out to be drug users themselves.

I have put my humanity aside. Even closed my eyes to the horror when the number of casualties started to climb. When innocents got caught in the crossfire, I bit my lips to keep silent because I believe this government must address this scourge of society.

Which is exactly why I hold our men and women in blue to higher standards.

Their uniform shields them from scrutiny. They’re the frontliners. They have the license to kill. When they say they shot a suspect because he tried to shoot at them even though all the evidence indicates otherwise, I keep a straight face.

Why? Because I have said from the very beginning that I will take their word against that of a suspected drug personality.

And then I read news about cops testing positive for drug use.

Imagine my disgust. I feel like I have been slapped in the face, punched in the stomach and shot in the back. All at the same time.

I have set aside all forms of decency because I believe drastic times call for drastic measures.

I have been hard on suspected drug personalities, which is why I must be harder on law enforcement agents who betray public trust.

Major Joemar Pomarejos, chief of the Waterfront Police Station, said a police officer must prove that he, or she, does not use drugs or does not have any involvement in the illegal drug trade to retain any credibility.

The three police officers in his station who were “outed” were once assigned in the Drug Enforcement Unit.

“They are performers sa (at the) police station. Of course, dili nato makoan kay ang atong makita sa ilaha ang ilang lihok sa (what we see is their) contribution sa (to the) accomplishment sa (of) Station 3. The drug test is a regular activity in compliance to our internal cleansing. Bisag kugihan ta sa trabaho, kugihan manakop, kon ang pulis mosuyop, wala gihapon (Even though they’re good at their job, good at making arrests, if they use drugs, all that goes to naught). The talk of credibility would be defeated,” Pomarejos said.

Excuse me? That’s it? They escaped his radar because they were good performers. Three cops working under his supervision test positive for drug use and that’s how he reacts. I hate to remind Pomarejos that ignorance does not excuse him from any responsibility.

I heard that close to 60 police officers also underwent a surprise random drug test following the discovery at the Waterfront Police Station.

I think Brigadier General Sinas can do better than that.