PNP back in drug war, PDEA still lead agency
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, December 7, said it may take him another year to put an end to the drug menace in the country.
“I hope to finish the problem maybe give me just another year,” Duterte said in his speech during the mass oath taking of presidential appointees in Malacañang.
Duterte—who won the presidential race in landslide victory last year—initially promised to curb the drug menace in the country within the first three to six months of his term, vowing to step down from his post if he failed to suppress the problem.
But before his self-imposed deadline lapsed, the president sought for an extension of another six months as he admitted that he “did not realize how severe and how serious the problem of drug menace” until he assumed power. He later on said his anti-illegal drugs campaign would have to continue until the end of his six-year term.
Duterte’s drug war has faced criticisms from human rights groups over its alleged human rights abuses and killings during police operations. But in his speech this Wednesday, the president said he would continue to ignore such criticisms.
“I will not answer it anymore except to say that my oath of office demands that I protect the Filipino people and that the Republic of the Philippines is safe. That is the long and short of it,” the chief executive said.
PNP back in drug war
After being barred from joining the anti-illegal drugs campaign due to string of controversies, the Philippine National Police (PNP) can now participate again in cracking down narcotics in the country.
According to Palace Spokesperson Harry Roque, Duterte has signed a new memorandum directing the PNP to return to the drug war but under the supervision of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
“They (PNP) will participate now, whereas in the past all of them cannot do anything,” Roque said in a media briefing on Tuesday, December 5.
The new memorandum, he said, “supersedes the earlier memo that designated the PDEA as the ‘sole agency’ that will deal with the anti-illegal drug operations.”
Last October, Duterte ordered the PNP out of the drug war amid public outcry over alleged police abuses and killings of suspects, including teenagers. Replacing the PNP, he designated PDEA as the “sole agency” in charge of his anti-narcotics campaign.
PNP records show almost 4,000 have been killed in drug war operations, but human rights groups have pegged the number at around 13,000.
Despite allowing the return of the police to the drug war, Roque clarified that “PDEA shall continue to be the overall lead agency.”
Welcoming the development, PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos said the police will comply with Duterte’s directive.
“We will follow the order of the commander-in-chief and chief executive,” Carlos said.
PDEA also welcomed the PNP’s return to the anti-illegal drugs campaign.
“PDEA welcomes the decision of the president. It has been the desire of PDEA that PNP will return in the fight against illegal drugs,” said PDEA director general Aaron Aquino.