Duterte orders Philippine Police out of anti-drug campaigns

One of the world's most controversial strongmen is losing his popularity at home

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Duterte did not explain in his memorandum why he pulled out the PNP from the anti-drug operations but police have lately been under heavy fire for alleged rampant abuses especially in the extra-judicial killings of children and minors that have drawn nationwide anger and indignation.

"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 memo said.

The suspension of PNP's anti-drug operations comes two days after President Rodrigo Duterte signed a memorandum giving the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency the lead in all anti-illegal drug operations in the country.

No less than PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino headed the operation on Thursday involving the destruction of 3.8 million grams of solid chemicals and 228 liters of liquid chemicals estimated at P9.6 million. The same operations also led to the arrest of 113,932.

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"PDEA will now bring policy focus, expert performance standards, high-level coordination of oversight, and centralized intelligence collection to the war on drugs", the presidential spokesperson said.

"What happened is the street distribution of networks of drugs lords already degraded so we now target higher echelons of the syndicates, as well as their protectors in government", he added. "This is a big challenge for PDEA, but we will live to it", Aquino said. "We'll just look for other things to work on, just not drugs for now", Dela Rosa said in Filipino during a press briefing.

He said they have to be optimistic the PDEA can do the job even if the agency has limited manpower. "They must be encouraged to do their share", Dela Rosa said.

Carlos however assured that police will be ready to provide support to the PDEA should the agency need it.

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PDEA spokesman Derreck Carreon said the agency has about 2,000 personnel and funds for only 200 new agents next year.

Nonetheless, PDEA will be up to the task. "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.

"We will target the source, the so-called big fish".

"We follow the procedures, we don't want an encounter but we also have to protect ourselves if drug suspects resist and fight back", he said.

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