Philippine President Orders Police to Rejoin Fight Against Narcotics

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

The president's spokesman, Harry Roque, clarified that the PNP would be called back to assist the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) with "anti-illegal drug operations" but that they would not resume Project Tokhang, the Guardian reported.

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). 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".

"There has been a notable resurgence in illegal drug activities and crimes committed", Roque said as he read the order.

"Hotel management should tighten measures to detect illegal drugs and gun searches without compromising our (PDEA) operations and, most importantly, the safety of the hotel guests", PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said on Wednesday.

The country's anti-drug campaign kicked off on May 9, 2016 when Duterte won the presidential elections.

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However, he said PDEA has been seriously hampered in performing its huge mandate by lack of resources, specifically agents and operatives who can penetrate drug-infected areas down to the municipal and village levels.

Duterte won the presidency previous year on a promise to wipe drugs and crime.

Human rights groups and political opponents say executions of drug users and small-time peddlers have been widespread, but police insist those killed were all dealers who put up violent resistance.

Duterte had twice suspended the police force's lead role in the war on illegal drugs.

The Kapihan is in support to this year's Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Week observance with the theme "Listen First". As many as 60 children have been killed in anti-drug operations since June 2016.

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He said the PDEA still needed the assistance of the police and the military, especially in operations involving big drug lords.

However, human rights groups have pegged the number at 13,000.

"President Duterte and other high-level government officials have openly advocated for killings, which could amount to criminal responsibility under worldwide law". "The country's judiciary and police have proven themselves both unwilling and unable to hold the killers in the "war on drugs" to account", said James Gomez, Amnesty International's Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

An image of Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte is pictured after it was smeared with paint during a rally against the visit of US President Donald Trump near the US embassy, in Manila, Philippines, on Nov 10, 2017. "That is the long and short of it", Duterte said in his speech.

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