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12.10.2017 15:58 News >> Philippine Police Step Back From Duterte Anti-Drug War

Philippine Police Step Back From Duterte Anti-Drug War

After vowing to 'cleanse' system, President Rodrigo Duterte directs drug enforcement agency to take over anti drug efforts.

Following the president apparently moving away from controversial aspects of the Philippines drug war, the police stepped out of the conflict on Thursday, leaving its role to the national drug enforcement agency.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) terminated anti-illegal drugs operations effective immediately and will instead focus on street crime, said Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa in a statement.

Dela Rosa's order added that the police's drug enforcement unit will remain but its duties will be limited to providing intelligence to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The termination of the PNP's role in the administration's flagship anti-drug campaign followed a Tuesday memorandum from the president directing the armed forces, customs office, and postal authority, among others, to leave the PDEA the exclusive agency fighting illegal drugs.

The memorandum was issued amid accusations of abuses in the anti-drug campaign, which according to human rights activists has killed more than 13,000 people. Police have disputed this total, saying that only around 3,800 drug suspects who allegedly fought back lost their lives.

President Rodrigo Duterte first spoke of putting the PDEA at the forefront of the drug war in January following the death of a South Korean who was abducted by policemen from his home and later killed in police custody.

He said he had to "reorganize the system" and "cleanse" the police force of "criminal policemen" who use the anti-drug campaign to commit abuses.

-'Big fish'

In a statement Thursday, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that the transfer of functions to PDEA was made to shift the campaign's focus to the bigger "fishes" of the illegal drug trade.

"What happened was the street distribution networks of the drug lords was already degraded, so we now target higher echelons of the syndicates as well as their protectors in government," Abella told reporters at Malacañang palace as "ed by ABS-CBN News.

After saying the police would leave the conflict to the drug enforcement agency, Duterte still struck a defiant tone, slamming Human Rights Watch for saying the Philippines is at risk of being removed from the UN Human Rights Council.

"My God! Do it now, stupid. Do it now," Duterte said in his speech at the relaunching of the Malacañang Press Briefing Room.

John Fisher of Human Rights Watch Geneva this week said Manila's human rights violations resulting from the bloody drug war are grounds for its removal from the UNHRC. -



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