Duterte pulls police off drugs crackdown

Philippine China Ties

Duterte gives PDEA sole authority to conduct anti-drug ops

Dela Rosa said he's frustrated that the PNP can't sustain the gains it has achieved in the fight against illegal drugs but stressed he doesn't harbor ill feelings toward Duterte.

The recent designation of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as the lead implementing office of the war against drugs was not enough as two opposition senators urged the government to radically overhaul its approach to tackling the Philippines' narcotics problem.

He also welcomed the members of the media to join their operations for transparency purposes.

Carlos however assured that police will be ready to provide support to the PDEA should the agency need it. The PNP has 190,000 employees.

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. "But I assure the public, we can do it although it would not be that easy".

"The PNP shall, at all times, maintain police visibility, as a deterrent to illegal drug activities leaving to the PDEA, however, the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations as aforestated", the President added.

Duterte on Thursday said he would wait and see how the PDEA performs.

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

PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said the war on drugs will be less bloody now. "All of you", he said.

In a memorandum he signed October 10 (Tuesday) but made public Wednesday, Duterte ordered all concerned government agencies, including the PNP to immediately transfer all case files on the drug campaign to PDEA.

Duterte's move follows the high-profile August killing of a 17-year-old student by police, which triggered rare public outrage.

He said that dishonest and corrupt police officers had taken their toll on the credibility of the PNP in conducting anti-drug operations.

From July 1, 2016 to September 15, 2017, a total of 3,850 drug suspects died in police operations.

The police claimed that they only killed suspects who resisted arrest violently.

The Palace on Thursday claimed success because the street distribution of illegal drugs has already been degraded.

"We will not allow anybody, not even the United States, to dictate on us", Duterte said.

"The vacuum the PNP will leave in the drug war will serve as a challenge to the community, local government units, the stakeholders".

"It's not a question of failure; it's a question of more effectivity, optimizing the efforts, and they are widening the scope of responsibility", Abella said in a press conference.

That suspension came after a South Korean businessman was kidnapped and killed by anti-drug police.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt.

PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa yesterday disbanded all Drug Enforcement Units and ordered police personnel to stop operations under the controversial Project Double Barrel and Oplan Tokhang, which critics say has led to extrajudicial killings.

Cascolan said the PNP's Drug Enforcement Group will remain as a unit. "Project Double Barrel Alpha" focused on the arrest of high-value targets involved in illegal drug trade.

PNP deputy spokesperson Superintendent Vimelee Madrid said the PNP's order was in adherence to the President's order designating PDEA as the sole agency for government's drugs war. "We still have one month because amendments will be made by November 20 so we will look at what will be done with the budget", 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.

The President instructed the PNP, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and other agencies involved in drug war to just relay information related to the anti-drug campaign to PDEA.

She also warned that abuses would not go away with the PDEA leading the campaign.

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