Duterte ends police role in anti-drug operations

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to take over anti-drug operations from the Philippine National Police amid heavy international and local pressures, according to The Manila Times Online on Friday.

PNP chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa told the media on Thursday that the PNP would cease to take part in any case related to illegal drugs, but would focus on unresolved cases of street killings committed by motorcycle-riding men.

De La Rosa vowed to clean up the PNP ranks and files and tighten internal cleansing.  He added that rogue policemen would be relieved and sent to retraining to be fit again for service.

The killings of three teenagers in August sparked public outcry and drew widespread condemnation, with the Catholic Church ordering the tolling bells until All Souls’ Day in a gesture of protest against the killings.

The Bishops also offered sanctuary to conscience-stricken policemen who wanted to testify on the killings.

Anti-drug operations by the PNP were halted in January after the October killing of Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo by police officers inside the PNP’s Camp Crame headquarters became public.  The operations, however, resumed in March under a new PNP illegal drugs unit.

According to PNP records, at least 3,800 people have been killed in anti-drug operations.

Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said street peddling of illegal drugs had decreased and, hence, it was justified to transfer the anti-drug operations to the PDEA.

The Commission on Human Rights on Thursday welcomed the President’s decision to designate the PDEA as the sole agency responsible for anti-drug operations.

CHR spokesman Jacquelyn de Guia said the new development indicates that the administration listens to the public’s clamor for the protection and promotion of human rights.