Duterte orders Philippine Police out of anti-drug campaigns

International parliamentarians display their message during a news conference in Manila Philippines. – AP

Duterte issued a directive on Tuesday ordering the police to halt activities in the anti-drug campaign and leave all operations to the drug enforcement agency, amid unprecedented scrutiny of police conduct.

PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa yesterday disbanded all Drug Enforcement Units and ordered police personnel to stop operations under the controversial Project Double Barrel and Oplan Tokhang, which critics say has led to extrajudicial killings.

Abella said the PDEA would now elevate the campaign against illegal drugs as it has widened its scope.

Project Double Barrel and Oplan Tokhang are the PNP's flagship programs to stop illegal drugs in the country but cops involved in the operations have been accused of killing suspected drug users or pushers even if they have already surrendered.

Duterte has lashed out several times when responding to comments from experts, calling some "idiots" for contradicting his views, or for advocating strategies to target the source of the drugs, rather than consumers.

The change in tack comes at a hard time for Duterte, who though still hugely popular, saw a sharp decline in ratings according to an opinion poll released on Sunday.

Latest figures from #RealNumbersPH showed there were 3,906 individuals killed in 76,863 anti-illegal drugs operations nationwide from July 1, 2016 up to September 26, 2017.

Duterte's move follows the high-profile August killing of a 17-year-old student by police, which triggered rare public outrage.

MANILA- The Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte's order to let the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) lead his anti-narcotics campaign.

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In January, he also suspended police from the war on drugs, calling them corrupt, but reinstated them again shortly afterwards.

"If we get good intelligence, we will pass it on to PDEA", Dela Rosa said.

Duterte cited Republic Act (RA) No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which stated that PDEA should be the lead agency when inquiries of the NBI, PNP, and others are found to be in violation of any of the provisions of this act. "The fight will be relentless, and it will be sustained", Carreon said in an interview.

"We will target the source, the so-called big fish".

"Ultimately, I believe the president's decision will put an end to the bloodshed and make the streets safer for everyone, especially our children", he said.

The death toll has been a source of worldwide concern that the Philippines has not taken kindly to, with its diplomats echoing Duterte's defiant rhetoric and complaining of Western hypocrisy.

"It's not a question of failure; it's a question of more effectivity, optimizing the efforts, and they are widening the scope of responsibility", Abella said in a press conference.

Senator JV Ejercito, who is the sponsor of the DILG's budget, said the department and the PNP were amenable to shelving the drop box system.

Aquino vowed to go after high-value targets, particularly big-time drug syndicates and those on Duterte's list of drug lords and narco-politicians.