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12 October 2017, 07:22 | Devin Moran
By Neil Jerome Morales
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.
The drug war was criticized by the administration and opposition lawmakers, the United Nations, and local and worldwide human rights groups for alleged extrajudicial killings supposedly committed by police officers.
In making this move, Duterte cited the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, or Republic Act (RA) 9165, which said that PDEA "shall be the lead agency" in investigating violations of the same law.
President Duterte signed a memorandum that removes the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Bureau of Customs (BOC), the Philippine Postal Office (PhilPost), and other concerned agencies, from the drug war. But the police drug war operations have killed dozens more suspects, including minors.
"The street distribution networks of drug lords has already degraded, so we now target higher echelons of the syndicates as well as their protectors in government", Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said.
"Yes, during my interview a while ago I'm asking all the media to join me in all my operations, you're all welcome and lahat ng operations ko isama natin ang media, may body cams kami and everything", Aquino said when asked if the drug war would be less bloody under PDEA.
Oplan Double Barrel was the PNP's flagship project in the government's war on drugs, made up of Oplan High-Value Target, which went after big-time drug sellers, and Oplan TokHang, which went after small-time drug dealers.
The PDEG was activated last March after the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force was dissolved over the involvement of several cops in the kidnapping and killing of Korean trader Jee Ick-joo in October previous year.
That suspension came after a South Korean businessman was kidnapped and killed by anti-drug police.
Malacañang clarified on Thursday that delegating PDEA as the sole agency in charge of the war on drugs does not mean that there was a failure in implementation of the government's campaign against illicit drugs.
While Duterte's war on drugs had substantial public support, it came under fire from local and global human rights groups, who denounced the killing of more than 7,000 suspects, mostly poor drug users and pushers.
Dela Rosa immediately dismantled the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group and created the Police Drug Enforcement Group (PDEG), which consists of police officers who underwent intense screening to ensure they are deserving of the job.
PDEA spokesman Derreck Carreon said the agency had about 2,000 personnel and funds for only 200 new agents next year. "They don't even have a vehicle", he said.
We'll just look for other things to work on, just not drugs for now, " said PNP Director General Ronald Dela Rosa.
She noted that the authorities must focus on crimes associated with big drug operations, such as money laundering and extortion.
Senator JV Ejercito, who is the sponsor of the DILG's budget, said the department and the PNP were amenable to shelving the drop box system.
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