PNP focused on grassroots crime prevention — Azurin

The Philippine National Police (PNP), under its new chief P/Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., will coordinate and dialogue with barangay and local church leaders to improve its campaign against illegal drugs and criminality at the grassroots level.

Azurin on Sunday said in a radio interview that the PNP will also take note of in-depth studies on why the drug menace has persisted, even as he vowed to continue protecting the rights of suspected drug personalities.

“The police need to communicate with the barangays to find out about the crimes in their respective areas so that they can be prevented immediately,” Azurin said in Filipino.

“While it’s true there’s a separation of church and state, church leaders and their flock are still part of the community. We need to build better relationship with all sectors of the community,” he added.

Azurin made the statement as Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said the anti-drugs campaign under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. would be as intensive as that waged by the Duterte administration.

Abalos’ department has supervision over the PNP, Marcos’ first State of the Nation Address and official pronouncements had barely touched on the drug problem.

“It is also necessary to study the root cause of why someone is addicted or involved in illegal drugs. We should not be satisfied with just seizing several kilos of drugs and that someone died in our drug operation,” Azurin said.

“While we do our jobs, we also try to preserve human life because killing is not the solution. So we need to study the root cause of why crimes happen,” the PNP official explained.

Over 6,000 people had been officially declared by the government to have died from anti-drug operations during the term of Duterte, a number far smaller than those claimed by his critics.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been pressing the investigation and prosecution of Duterte over alleged state-sponsored killings related to the drug campaign.

However, President Marcos, who offered Duterte the post of anti-drug czar, has practically shut the door on that prospect after he said the Philippines has no plan of rejoining the ICC.

Duterte himself pulled the country out of the ICC in 2019, saying the court based in The Hague, could not exert jurisdiction on him because the Philippines has a fully functioning justice system.

PNP interaction with barangay officials could also government combat terrorism, Azurin said.

“The barangays should know who are residents in their area, and who are the newcomers. That way, they know if suspicious people are entering their area. At the same time, we will tighten security at airports and seaports so terrorists don’t slip past us,” he said.

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