Duterte pulls police off drugs crackdown

Philippines president Duterte says he could throw out EU diplomats 'within 24 hours' in expletive-filled tirade

"We are turning over the task to PDEA".

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said that PDEA will bring policy focus, expert performance standards, high-level coordination of oversight, and centralized intelligence collection to the President's anti-illegal drugs campaign.

He also instructed the PNP to merely maintain police visibility "as a deterrent to illegal drug activities".

The drug war was criticized by the administration and opposition lawmakers, the United Nations, and local and worldwide human rights groups for alleged extrajudicial killings supposedly committed by police officers.

As PDEA agents vowed to adhere to the rule of law, they stressed that they would not chicken out from using force to defend themselves when conducting illegal drug operations.

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

It was suspended in January amid controversy over rogue cops' involvement in the kidnap-slay of a South Korean businessman. Internal cleansing refers to operations to apprehend corrupt police officers in the PNP's ranks.

Earlier in the day, there appeared to have been a miscommunication between Dela Rosa and PNP spokesperson Dionardo Carlos.

Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, Philippine National Police chief, on Thursday announced that he has ordered the police to stop all programs related to the anti-illegal drugs campaign.

But the police drug war operations have killed dozens more suspects, including minors.

In a memorandum dated October 10, Duterte directed the four agencies among others "to leave the PDEA, as a sole agency to conduct all campaigns and operations against all those who are involved in or connected with illegal drugs".

"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.

"So ang nangyari po, na-degrade 'yung street distribution networks nung mga drug lords (What happened was the street distribution networks of the drug lords have been degraded) so we now target higher echelons of the syndicates as well as their protectors in government", Abella said.

"PDEA continues to regularly destroy illegal drugs, CPECs and laboratory equipment right before the public, thus allaying any misconception that these pieces of drug and non-drug evidence are being recycled or peddled back in the streets", Aquino said.

He also added that PDEA will also lead in establishing a broad anti-drug coalition - working with agencies, local government units, civil society, the Church, business, the academe, and media to push prevention and rehabilitation initiatives.

Thousands of suspected drug addicts, mostly from poor communities, have been killed in the anti-narcotics campaigns since July 2016.



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