STIKE HOME| SAF in capable hands

POLICE Director General Ronald dela Rosa could not have picked a more credible and capable officer to head the Special Action Force than Chief Supt. Benjamin Lusad.

A member of PMA class 1985, Lusad’s assumption as SAF commander has been hailed as a special recognition for the Cordillera administrative region from where SAF has drawn most of its recruits.

In his previous stints as provincial commanders of Benguet and Abra, respectively, the soft-spoken Lusad has been known to instill utmost professionalism among his men. In Camp Crame, his name resonates with both respect and goodwill.

That extends to the gym itself where we shared a common passion for Shotokan Karate. But while I was what you would call a now you-see-me, now-you-don’t gym denizen whose knowledge of the martial art is rusty at best, he is the real thing.

Lusad was hooked into the martial art while still a cadet with the PMA. But when he served as provincial director of Benguet in 2010, he resumed his training and in due time attended the examination for new black belts administered by the highly-respected JKA chief instructor Masonori Tahakashi who came all the way from Cebu to preside over the activities.

I was told that in deference to his status as PNP official, Lusad was told by the instructors to forego the kumite (sparring) and could be awarded outright with his shodan (first dan) belt.

He refused. So what followed was for two hours non-stop, he took on an array of opponents one after the after, being bloodied in the process. But he asked and gave no quarters and in the end, Takahashi grudgingly awarded him his belt.

With him in the SAF are junior officers and enlisted men, majority by the way comes from the Cordillera provinces. I think the warrior tradition that remains very much a part of highland culture is what attracted many PNP recruits from the Cordillera to the SAF.

The late PSI Gednat Carambas Tabdi who perished in the Mamasapano encounter, for instance, is the son of a boyhood neighbor in La Trinidad, Benguet. Four of his men who perished in the encounter, PO2 Jerry Kayob, PO3 Noel Golocan, PO2 Noble Kiangan and P01 Angel Kodiamat, also came from the same region.

As head of the SAF, Lusad has been tasked to secure the National Bilibid Prisons and to rid it of all vestiges of illegal drug trade.

That the PNP organization will entrust these tasks no less to police commandos speaks volumes of the determination of the Duterte administration to strike a decisive blow against illegal drugs. For years on end, the prison facility has ironically hosted one of the country’s “manufacturing plants” of illegal drugs as well-meaning local officials and law enforcement agencies have long discovered. The Department of Justice, that managed the facility, made quite a spectacle of raiding the facility last year but failed short of nipping the illegal drug trade. Law enforcement in the past has been shot through with holes and the drug lords went on to operate with impunity.

President Duterte has also tasked the marines to alternate with the SAF to ensure the job is done. Overall, this is complimented nationwide by a total war against illegal drugs with initial results that came as a shock to most considering the millions of people already affected.

The alternative is a narco-state where lives are wasted needlessly by the hour and the day, sus ginoo. (JKL)

Posted in Opinion