It was a war nobody thought could be waged in a country that prides itself as the largest Catholic nation in Asia. The war started with a bang but ended in a whimper- and in shame for the PNP. With some policemen using entrep skills to make fast buck on Operation Tokhang, what else could be more abhorrent? It was, indeed, “OPLAN Double Barrell” with one barrel cock on hapless drug suspects, and the other, pointed on the more lucrative booties of war.
With hugely deflated ego, PNP Chief Bato Dela Rosa admitted, on national TV, the failure of the war on drugs. While the streets were littered with bodies of victims who fought if out with the police, it appeared that the bigger menace is within the organization for having policemen conducting their own war for pecuniary interest.
In another place and time, such embarrassing failure is enough for the PNP Chief to hang himself. But after his perfunctory resignation was turned down by the President, Bato is back to his old ways of dishing out jokes during press briefings, which for a while, had turned sour.
One wonders then how a war which had claimed the lives of thousands and caused thousands more to suffer, could be so ill-conceived. President Duterte and his PNP Chief were barely into their respective jobs when the war was announced. Certainly, we could not expect the public to think that there was a well thought-out plan on how the war would be conducted, and how it would be ended. That there was none was made obvious by its abrupt end following the death of the Korean executive Jee Ick – joo in the hands of some policemen inside Camp Crame.
It was indeed a one-sided war. Certainly, the victims’ rusty 38 caliber revolvers were no match to the PNP’s long fire power. For a long while, Metro Manila’s side streets had become virtual killing fields. With the President’s unqualified support, how could the police lose such a war?
But then it tipped. For all its bravado and hubris, the PNP appeared helpless against its own men- rogue policemen moonlighting as kidnap for ransom gangs. Perhaps it is poetic justice that finally Dela Rosa had ordered the cleansing of PNP of its scalawags. This must be the institution’s remorse for a war with a noble purpose that turned out to be a commercial operation for some policemen.
And for the PNP Chief with all the dead in his sleeves, perhaps, it is not yet too late to realize that one cannot win a war when the enemy is within.