Philippines: Police Reinstatement In "Drug War" Threatens Catastrophic Return To Mass Killing

Philippines: Police Reinstatement In

Aquino said he issued the statement after recent PDEA anti-drug operations revealed that hotels were being used as choice venues to consume, sell and deliver risky drugs.

The Drug Enforcement Agency is mandated under the law to enforce all legal provisions on prohibited drugs. In January, he ordered the PNP to suspend its anti-drug operations after a Korean businessman was killed allegedly by narcotics police inside the PNP headquarters.

"The PDEA remains the lead but the PNP will again participate in the anti-illegal drug operations", he added.

Duterte won last year's presidential elections after promising to eradicate illegal drugs with an unprecedented crackdown that would lead to up to 100,000 people being killed.

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). "It has been the desire of PDEA that PNP will return in the fight against illegal drugs", PDEA Director-General Aaron Aquino said. The decision came as pollster Social Weather Stations revealed its third-quarter report that showed that the popularity of Duterte's illegal drugs campaign had declined since December 2016.

On October 12, the PNP suspended its anti-drug operations.

The president said he ordered the participation of the PNP anew because of the "notable resurgence in illegal drug activities and crimes committed" since he directed the PDEA to handle the drug problem.

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"The president's memorandum order is likewise 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", Roque told reporters.

Duterte, during his campaign for presidency, had promised to solve the drug problem in the country within the first 6 months of his term.

Following the announcement, Duterte told human rights groups criticizing his deadly campaign to "go to hell". "If there was an increase in the supply and demand on illegal drugs, that's our problem, but if there was an increase in crime like rape, it is not our problem", Aquino said in late November.

"President Duterte and other high-level government officials have openly advocated for killings, which could amount to criminal responsibility under global law". Duterte said in a speech, referring to human rights groups, Catholic bishops and priests who had urged an end to the killings.

Another 2,290 have been murdered in drug-related crimes, while thousands of other deaths remain unsolved, according to government data.

The October suspension was the second time Duterte had hauled police off the drug war. The drug enforcement agency has only a fraction of the manpower of the 190,000-strong police.

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