Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Duterte names PDEA as 'sole agency' for drug war

Duterte names PDEA as 'sole agency' for drug war

PNP deputy spokesperson Superintendent Vimelee Madrid said the PNP's order was in adherence to the President's order designating PDEA as the sole agency for government's drugs war.

Duterte was angered by the EU's persistent criticisms of his drug war, especially the increasing number of drug-related killings.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's ferocious war on drugs will shift to a higher gear to target "big fish", officials said on Thursday, moving away from street level operations to go after big networks and suppliers.

A DAY after President Rodrigo Duterte gave the go-ahead to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to lead his administration's war on drugs, the anti-narcotics body set out to destroy more than P10 million worth of seized ingredients and equipment used in making illegal drugs in Valenzuela City. "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.

Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) chair Jose Manuel Diokno said the war on drugs authorizes the police to kill drug suspects in the guise "neutralizing" or "negating" them.

The message will sound familiar, with similar announcements made a year ago, when the authorities launched Project Double Barrel Alpha to focus on tracking down drug producers and suppliers.

"The PNP shall, at all times, maintain police visibility, as a deterrent to illegal drug activities leaving to the PDEA, however, the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations as aforestated", the President added.

This developed as the PNP hierarchy ordered the suspension of all Project Double Barrel and Oplan Tokhang operations and the immediate dissolution of all drug enforcement units from the regional offices down to the police stations.

Carlos said the PNP's Drug Enforcement Group, a national operational support unit with the mission and function to be the lead unit in police anti-drug operations, remains.

While Duterte's war on drugs had substantial public support, it came under fire from local and worldwide human rights groups, who denounced the killing of more than 7,000 suspects, mostly poor drug users and pushers.

Police say armed suspects resisted arrest in every one of those cases and deny allegations victims were executed.

PDEA spokesman Derreck Carreon said the agency had about 2,000 personnel and funds for only 200 new agents next year. "They must be encouraged to do their share", he said.

"They need it badly to be able to strengthen their investigation processes against the PNP personnel".

"All information/data received by the PNP, NBI, AFP, BOC, PPO, 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", the President stated in the document.

Instead of a mere changing of the guard in the government's anti-drug campaign, what is needed is for Oplan Tokhang to be stopped and scrapped, she said.

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

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