Bato: PNP now hands off on drug war

Duterte gestures as he delivers his speech during the oath taking of Philippine National Police star rank officers at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila Philippines

Duterte gestures as he delivers his speech during the oath taking of PNP star rank officers in Manila Thomson Reuters

President Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte sidelined the Philippine National Police (PNP) and instead designated the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority (PDEA) as the lead and sole agency in the brutal and bloody war on illegal drugs.

In his order, dated Oct.11, Duterte directed that henceforth the PDEA is to be the sole agency in the anti-drug operations in line with its mandate from the country's Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded are among the programs that have been stopped following Dela Rosa's order, according to a report from radio dzMM.

No less than PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino headed the operation on Thursday involving the destruction of 3.8 million grams of solid chemicals and 228 liters of liquid chemicals estimated at P9.6 million.

Dela Rosa, however, said the PNP Drug Enforcement Group will still function as the PNP's anti-illegal drugs arm but only to gather intelligence information regarding illegal drugs. Internal cleansing refers to operations to apprehend corrupt police officers in the PNP's ranks.

Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos, the PNP spokesman, said they would follow Duterte's order, adding the police could now focus in their anti-criminality operations and "internal cleansing" to rid the agency of "scalawags" for their involvement drugs and other crmes.

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

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On February 27, the President allowed the PNP a limited participation in the anti-drug campaign through smaller task forces.

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

Majority are missing, he added.

This is the second time that the PDEA will take the lead on the administration's drug war under Duterte.

"PDEA will now bring policy focus, expert performance standards, high-level coordination of oversight, and centralized intelligence collection to the war on drugs", the presidential spokesperson said.

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

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