Saturday, 21 October, 2017

Duterte pulls police off drugs crackdown

International parliamentarians display their message during a news conference in Manila Philippines. – AP International parliamentarians display their message during a news conference in Manila Philippines. – AP
Melinda Barton | 12 October, 2017, 17:53

A day after President Rodrigo Duterte has designated the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea) as the "sole agency" in charge of the war on drugs, the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday officially terminated the implementation of the Oplan Double Barrel and Oplan Tokhang.

Carlos said the PNP's Drug Enforcement Group, a national operational support unit with the mission and function to be the lead unit in police anti-drug operations, remains.

Oplan Double Barrel is the PNP's campaign against high-value drug targets, which resulted in killings of drug suspects.

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 previous year.

Dela Rosa earlier said that without the task of ridding the country of illegal drugs, the PNP will now focus on internal cleansing and crack down on riding in tandem groups.

Retired police general Aaron Aquino, the new PDEA chief, immediately texted reporters when Malacanang Palace released Duterte's order sidelining of the PNP thus: "Didn't ask for it".

Madrid said police officers may still make arrests if the illegal drug transaction is happening in front of them.

The PNP's Drug Enforcement Group will now be limited to intelligence production and monitoring.

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.

This will also be the second time that President Duterte ordered the PNP to stop all anti-drug operations nationwide.

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

Police say they have killed over 3,850 people in anti-drugs operations since Duterte took office previous year.

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

"We will take the lead in all of these - high-level drug pushing, mid-level, and street level".

Duterte's drug war has sparked outrage locally and internationally following the deaths of thousands of suspected drug offenders, including some minors, since he assumed office in 2016.