Duterte pulls police off drugs crackdown

Duterte pulls police off drugs crackdown

The drug war was criticized by the administration and opposition lawmakers, the United Nations, and local and worldwide human rights groups for alleged extrajudicial killings supposedly committed by police officers.

This is the second time that the PDEA will take the lead on the administration's drug war under Duterte.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) was ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte to be the "sole agency" which will be in charge of all anti-drug operations of the administration. But the police drug war operations have killed dozens more suspects, including minors. "If the crime is being committed in our presence and we have personal knowledge that a crime is being committed or is about to be committed we will effect the arrest", Madrid said.

PDEG will continue with intelligence gathering and will forward and coordinate to the PDEA all the data they needed in line with the anti-illegal drugs operations, he said. "Project Double Barrel Alpha" focused on the arrest of high-value targets involved in illegal drug trade.

"So ang nangyari po, na-degrade 'yung street distribution networks nung mga drug lords (What happened was the street distribution networks of the drug lords have been degraded) so we now target higher echelons of the syndicates as well as their protectors in government", Abella said.

Funeral workers use a stretcher to carry the body of a suspected drug pusher, whom police investigators said was shot and killed by unidentified men, along a street in Quezon city, metro Manila, Philippines March 1, 2017.

"Under Republic Act 9165, PDEA can seek assistance from any law enforcement agencies in the conduct of illegal drugs", Aquino said.

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Dela Rosa immediately dismantled the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group and created the Police Drug Enforcement Group (PDEG), which consists of police officers who underwent intense screening to ensure they are deserving of the job. "They must be encouraged to do their share", he said.

Duterte's drug war has sparked outrage locally and internationally following the deaths of thousands of suspected drug offenders, including some minors, since he assumed office in 2016.

"If we get good intelligence, we will pass it on to PDEA", Dela Rosa said. "They don't even have a vehicle", he said.

The P900 million Oplan Double Barrel budget should also be diverted to the provident fund of police personnel and their capability enhancement program.

"All information/data received by the NBI, PNP, AFP, Bureau of Customs, Philippine Postal Office, and all other agencies or any and all ad hoc anti-drug task forces shall forthwith be relayed, delivered, or brought to the attention of the PDEA for its appropriate action", Duterte said. "Just because there is a changing of the guard in the government's anti-drug campaign doesn't mean that we've also had a change of heart in our pursuit of truth, justice and accountability".

According to Hontiveros, the government should implement a "rules-based and modern drug enforcement agency" in fighting the drug problem in the country.

She noted that the authorities must focus on crimes associated with big drug operations, such as money laundering and extortion.

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