Philippines: Police Reinstatement In "Drug War" Threatens Catastrophic Return To Mass Killing

Philippines: Police Reinstatement In

In October 2017, Duterte ordered Philippine police to end all anti-war operations, leaving the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in charge.

Memorandum Order 17 overrules the October 10 memorandum signed by Duterte, which instructed the PNP to merely maintain police visibility while the PDEA conducts its nationwide operations against illicit narcotics trade.

After a growing sentiment of opposition pushback against Duterte's anti-drug campaign and facing accusations of police abuse, the president chose to shift his policy and made the announcement on 12 October that the PDEA would be taking the reins from the PNP.

It remains unclear whether or not PDEA and PNP will be reviving the erstwhile Oplan Tokhang, which had generated a storm of controversy because of the numerous deaths associated with the police campaign against drug suspects.

But PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said Dela Rosa has no one else to blame if there is a rise in rape-slay cases as it falls within PNP's anti-criminality responsibilities.

She also urged the national government to strengthen the PDEA so it can take a "more aggressive role" in the campaign against illegal drugs.

The subsequent weeks have seen "a notable resurgence in illegal drugs activities and crimes", media reports cited presidential spokesperson Harry Roque as saying.

The drug enforcement agency took over the reins of the campaign in October amid growing public concern over drug-related killings during police operations.

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The president dismissed criticism over the thousands of people killed in the drug war as he said the Philippines had turned into a "narco-state".

Philippine police have been ordered by their president to rejoin the country's ongoing war on drugs. "And therefore, the NBI, PNP, AFP, BOC, Philpost and other agencies involved in Anti-Illegal Drugs Task Force shall resume in providing active support to PDEA", the proclamation further states.

Duterte, during his campaign for presidency, had promised to solve the drug problem in the country within the first 6 months of his term.

Human rights watchdogs said most of the fatalities in the crackdown have been extrajudicial killings committed by cops-an allegation that the government has vehemently and repeatedly denied by insisting that police were only killing in self-defense.

This is the second time the police have been removed, then reinstated to the anti-drug operations. The Philippines has a population of 101 million as of the 2015 survey.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte holds a weapon as he visits troops fighting the extremist Maute group in Marawi, Philippines, on August 24.

"This drug problem, it will not stop. May the justice of God come upon those responsible for the killings!" the statement said.

The tactical shift in Duterte's drug war came at a hard time in his leadership. The drug enforcement agency has only a fraction of the manpower of the 190,000-strong police.

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