PNP now toothless in drug war
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to be the sole agency to conduct the anti-drug operations of the government.
This was contained in a memorandum signed by Duterte on October 10, addressed to various government agencies.
The President’s move has again demoted the Philippine National Police (PNP) from the lead role in his controversial drug war, authorities said Wednesday, as he faced growing opposition to the deadly crackdown.
Duterte said law enforcement agencies, including the PNP, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Bureau of Customs (BOC), as well as all ad-hoc task forces, will let PDEA to operate “as sole agency” in conducting the anti-illegal drugs operations.
“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,” Duterte said.
“All information/data received by the NBI, PNP, AFP, Bureau of Customs, Philippines Postal Office, and all other agencies or any and all ad hoc anti-drug task forces shall forthwith be relayed, delivered or brought to the attention of the PDEA for its appropriate action,” he added.
Duterte said the move was made for “pinpointing precise accountability.”
Police have reported killing 3,850 people in anti-drug operations since Duterte took office in the middle of last year. He stormed to an election victory after promising 100,000 people would die as he eradicated illegal drugs in society.
Many Filipinos continue to support the crackdown but a survey last month showed the first major drop in Duterte’s popularity, which followed rare street protests that were triggered by police allegedly murdering two teenagers.
PDEA will take the “lead” in the crackdown, according to a statement released by the president’s office to explain Duterte’s order, which was signed on Tuesday.
PDEA has fewer than 2,000 officers while the Philippine National Police has more than 165,000.
Duterte in January made a similar move to give the appearance of sidelining the police, describing the force then as “corrupt to the core” and giving PDEA the lead role in the drug war.
This was in response to revelations officers kidnapped a South Korean businessman under the guise of a drug raid, then murdered him inside national police headquarters.
However Duterte quickly reinstated the police without making any major reforms. Police then announced they were back fighting the drug war with a campaign named: “Double Barrel Re-Loaded”.
Duterte has said he would be “happy to slaughter” three million drug addicts, and repeatedly vowed that police would not go to jail for killing in his drug war.
Rights groups have warned Duterte may be orchestrating a crime against humanity.
On Wednesday, relatives of two people killed by police filed a case in the Supreme Court calling for the drug war to be declared illegal, likening events in the Philippines to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.
The drug campaign has also led to wider violence in which thousands of people have been murdered in unexplained circumstances. With reports from Agence France Presse and Nestor Corrales, INQUIRER.net/ac
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