Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

President Rodrigo Duterte orders police to rejoin Philippines' war on drugs

President Rodrigo Duterte orders police to rejoin Philippines' war on drugs

Responding to what the Palace calls "public clamor", President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday tapped the police to provide "active support" to PDEA's anti-drug activities.

The PDEA welcomed the return of the PNP into the antidrug operations as ordered by the President.

Commission on Human Rights Spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said on Wednesday that she hopes the PNP follows PDEA's lead, noting that there were fewer reported deaths when PDEA was at the helm of the drug war.

For his part, Agent Francisfil Tangeres of PDEA said PDEA "may be undermanned, underequipped, and underfunded but given with this situation, we still managed to conduct 17 supply reduction operations that led to the arrest of more or less 30 drug personalities".

Because of the order announced Tuesday, the police can now join anti-drug raids but have to coordinate their actions with the PDEA.

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But he reinstated them five weeks later, arguing that drugs were pouring back to the streets, but then pulled them off the campaign again in October and made the PDEA the sole agency in charge of the anti-drug campaign.

Aside from the PNP, other agencies that will support PDEA are the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bureau of Customs (BOC), and the Philippine Postal Office (PhilPost).

On October 12, the PNP suspended its anti-drug operations.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque explained that "active support" means the PNP can "participate" in the campaign and that it will have to "consult" the PDEA on anti-drug operations.

Director Camilo Cascolan, head of the PNP Directorate for Operations, said they will be meeting with the PDEA on how to go about with the anti-drugs operations.

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On the campaign trail, Duterte had promised to eradicate the drug problem within three to six months after getting elected.

Human rights watchdogs said most of the fatalities in the crackdown have been extrajudicial killings committed by cops-an allegation that the government has vehemently and repeatedly denied by insisting that police were only killing in self-defense.

Suspected pushers and users were caught red-handed selling and using methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu, and ecstasy, respectively, inside plush hotel rooms in Metro Manila, during a string of buy-bust operations and implementation of search warrants by the PDEA. "If there was an increase in the supply and demand on illegal drugs, that's our problem, but if there was an increase in crime like rape, it is not our problem", Aquino said in late November. "Those responsible, including those who ordered the killings, must be brought to justice".

Another 2,290 have been murdered in drug-related crimes, while thousands of other deaths remain unsolved, according to government data.

The 160,000-strong police force in the Philippines apparently dwarfs the country's ant-drug agency, which now numbers about 2,000 officers. He criticised the decision to restore the 170,000-strong police anew in the war against illegal drugs.

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