By John Ezekiel J. Hirro

PNP chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas

Newly installed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas on Wednesday dared critics of his Central Visayas stint, during which the region saw an increase in drug-related killings, to file charges against him in court.

“Matagal na po akong nawala sa PRO (Police Regional Office) 7. Sa Cebu wala po akong kaso doon, kung may kaso po ako, kung may reklamo sila, puwede naman po nilang i-file iyon sa korte natin, sa iba’t ibang ahensiya na nagsu-supervise po sa PNP,” he said in a Laging Handa briefing.

“Sa mga alleged human rights violations ay wala pong katotohanan iyon…wala po akong kaso doon, kung mayroon man, i-encourage po sila na mag-file sila ng kaso para sasagutin ko po sa tamang venue po,” he added.

As police director in Central Visayas, Sinas ordered strict access restrictions on documents pertaining to anti-drug operations.

Controversy hounded him further in May, when he was feted in a “mañanita” birthday celebration with police officers amid stringent lockdown protocols.

Stricter drug war

Sinas said President Rodrigo Duterte’s first order was to intensify his administration’s war on drugs.

“Ang pinakauna po talaga niyang instruction ay ipagpatuloy at paigtingin at lakasan ang kampanya laban sa iligal na droga,” he said.

“At dapat talagang gawin namin ang katungkulan namin para mabawasan o mahinto na iyong pagkalat ng mga iligal na droga sa iba’t-ibang parte ng Pilipinas, at pinapaigting niya lalo na iyong mga high value targets at saka high value individuals,” he added.

Duterte’s war on drugs has persisted even amid lockdown protocols imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s monitoring platform #RealNumbersPH showed that 155 persons were killed from April to July this year.

Earlier, the Commission on Human Rights expressed hope that under Sinas, the police would affirm the government’s commitments to uphold justice and human rights by pursuing every case of human rights violation.

“We cannot overemphasize the role of our law enforcers in making perpetrators accountable for their offenses. And, to this end, we also look forward to concrete actions from the PNP in realizing openness and genuine cooperation in investigating said human rights violations—even in cases when state officers and agents are allegedly implicated in their commission, CHR spokeswoman Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.