Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Duterte orders Philippine Police out of anti-drug campaigns

Duterte orders Philippine Police out of anti-drug campaigns

On Wednesday, Duterte indirectly admitted that the administration's bloody drug war was chaotic and ordered the PDEA to lead efforts to bring order to the administration's anti-drug efforts.

Sidelining the police, President Rodrigo Duterte named the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as the "sole agency" in charge of his war on drugs, as his anti-drug campaign faces public outrage over police abuses.

The PDEG was activated last March after the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force was dissolved over the involvement of several cops in the kidnapping and killing of Korean trader Jee Ick-joo in October past year.

NBI Director Dante Gierran said the President's order will allow them to focus on the government's campaign against corruption and other issues.

In a memorandum signed Tuesday, Duterte ordered the PDEA to take the lead in the war on drugs as tasked under the anti-drug law, mandating other law enforcement agencies to defer to the agency.

Duterte first broached the idea to put PDEA in charge of the anti-drug campaign in January when he announced that he meant to create a "narcotics command" to weed out rogue policemen involved in the drug trade.

The President said he is no longer interested in having other agencies, such as the PNP, handle his drug war.

According to the PDEA chief, only 28 drug suspects were killed during drug operations since July 1, 2016.

Police say armed suspects resisted arrest in every one of those cases and deny allegations victims were executed. "They must be encouraged to do their share", he said.

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On January 30, 2017, Duterte instructed the PNP to dismantle all its anti-illegal drug units and "cleanse its ranks" of corrupt personnel following the kidnap and murder of a South Korean businessman inside Camp Crame.

While Duterte's war on drugs had substantial public support, it came under fire from local and global human rights groups, who denounced the killing of more than 7,000 suspects, mostly poor drug users and pushers.

For its part, PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos told reporters in a text message that it will follow the order of the commander-in-chief (CIC) and Chief Executive (CE).

Cascolan said the PNP's Drug Enforcement Group will remain as a unit.

"Yes, during my interview a while ago I'm asking all the media to join me in all my operations, you're all welcome and lahat ng operations ko isama natin ang media, may body cams kami and everything", Aquino said when asked if the drug war would be less bloody under PDEA. "If the crime is being committed in our presence and we have personal knowledge that a crime is being committed or is about to be committed we will effect the arrest", Madrid said.

"If there is good intelligence information, they will pass them to PDEA", he said.

The P900 million Oplan Double Barrel budget should also be diverted to the provident fund of police personnel and their capability enhancement program.

Instead of a mere changing of the guard in the government's anti-drug campaign, what is needed is for Oplan Tokhang to be stopped and scrapped, she said.

Se warned that the system was prone to malice and abuse and could even lead to unnecessary deaths.

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