Philippines' Duterte Puts Police Back in Drug War

Philippine Police Ordered Back to Front Lines of Bloody Anti-drug Crackdown

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a memorandum allowing the Philippine National Police (PNP) to have an "active participation" in his brutal crackdown on illegal drugs, Malacañang said on Tuesday, December 5.

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. He said the President issued the order "in response to a clamor from the public to restore to the PNP and other law enforcement agencies the responsibility of providing active support to the PDEA".

Villanobos said the campaign against drugs cannot be resolved alone by one agency, as he believes that the fight against illegal drugs can be done with the help of the PNP, PDEA, and other agencies.

Aside from the PNP, other agencies that will support PDEA are the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bureau of Customs (BOC), and the Philippine Postal Office (PhilPost).

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.

He explained that while PNP and other law enforcement agencies will provide active support in the campaign against illegal drugs, the PDEA, as head of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, "shall coordinate all government efforts in this regard".

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"The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) shall remain as the policymaking and strategy formulating body in the planning and formulation of policies and programs on drug prevention and control", Roque added.

Policemen claimed that Kian delos Santos, 17, was a drug runner who fought arresting officers but witnesses said the teenager was executed.

Duterte had twice stripped the PNP from the lead role in the war against drugs. "If there was an increase in the supply and demand on illegal drugs, that's our problem, but if there was an increase in crime like rape, it is not our problem", Aquino said in late November.

On October 12, the PNP suspended its anti-drug operations. "Those responsible, including those who ordered the killings, must be brought to justice".

Duterte said he would continue to ignore criticism from human rights groups over his war on drugs, telling them in jest to buy Valium. "The country's judiciary and police have proven themselves both unwilling and unable to hold the killers in the "war on drugs" to account", James Gomez, Amnesty International's Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a news release.

The tactical shift in Duterte's drug war came at a hard time in his leadership.

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