Philippines' Duterte brings back police in his anti-drug war

SunStar file

SunStar file

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to return to the government's war on illegal drugs but in a supporting role, with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) keeping the lead overall in the campaign.

Philippine police on Tuesday were ordered to rejoin the war on drugs, overturning President Duterte's decision two months ago to leave the campaign in the hands of the government's anti-drug agency.

"Meaning, PDEA remains the lead but the PNP will again participate in the anti-illegal drug operations", the President's spokesman said.

Duterte signed on October 10 a memorandum stripping the PNP of its lead role in the anti-narcotics campaign following controversies hounding its operations against suspected drug offenders.

Because of the order announced Tuesday, the police can now join anti-drug raids but have to coordinate their actions with the PDEA.

The diplomatic cooperation and exchange of information relative to drug trafficking between PDEA and Japan dates back 11 years ago with the signing of record of discussion between the agency and Japan Coast Guard (JCG) on October 3, 2006.

More than 12 police officers have been investigated for the killing after the case received worldwide attention, but no one has yet been held to account.

Police say almost 4,000 people have been killed in their anti-drug operations.

Meanwhile, a Human Rights Watch official said the resumption of police anti-drug operations was not wholly unexpected.

Following the announcement, Duterte told human rights groups criticizing his deadly campaign to "go to hell".

"I do not want Filipinos to be turned into fools during my time". The first suspension took place in January when it was revealed that officers in the anti-drug campaign had murdered a South Korean businessman inside national police headquarters.

Amnesty International called for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to begin an investigation into the crimes against humanity, including the deaths of approximately 60 children, committed during Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's violent "war on drugs", according to Amnesty International.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said on a single day, 32 drug suspects were killed in one province in nine hours and a similar number were killed in one city, and that Duterte was quoted as saying that was a good outcome that should happen every day.

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