Duterte restores police role in deadly Philippines drug war

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This came after Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday that President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the police and other government agencies to return to the drug war, but under the supervision of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

More than 7,000 people have been killed in the war on drugs, but Duterte still remains popular in The Phillipines, in part because most of the population isn't affected by the crackdown, which is mostly limited to inner cities.

Commission on Human Rights Spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said on Wednesday that she hopes the PNP follows PDEA's lead, noting that there were fewer reported deaths when PDEA was at the helm of the drug war.

"Since the police were withdrawn from anti-drug operations in October, there has been a marked decline in the number of deaths resulting from these operations".

Because of the order announced Tuesday, the police can now join anti-drug raids but have to coordinate their actions with the PDEA.

Director Camilo Cascolan, head of the PNP Directorate for Operations, said they will be meeting with the PDEA on how to go about with the anti-drugs operations.

Other law enforcement agencies, including the National Bureau of Investigation, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Postal Corporation were also directed to provide support to the PDEA in the conduct of the anti-narcotics campaign.

Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, PNP spokesman, said a less bloody anti-illegal drugs campaign is one of the three preparations that are now being done by the PNP leadership on its way for return in the war on drugs.

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Since the PDEA took the lead on October 11, Roque said only one drug suspect had been killed in the course of anti-drug operations. "The Dangerous Drugs Board shall remain as the policy-making and strategy formulating body in the planning and formulation of policies and programs on drug prevention and control", Roque said.

Duterte won the presidency past year on a promise to wipe drugs and crime.

"The source of that alleged "clamor" was unlikely to be Manila's urban poor areas, the epicenter of the killing zones linked to the 'drug war, '" said Phelim Kine, deputy director for HRW's Asia Division.

"Tokhang" is the flagship campaign against illegal drugs, where the policemen visit homes of suspected drug personalities.

"This drug problem, it will not stop". Duterte said in a speech, referring to human rights groups, Catholic bishops and priests who had urged an end to the killings.

The tactical shift in Duterte's drug war came at a hard time in his leadership.

Duterte said the anti-drug agency, which has only 2,000 officers, could not effectively carry out the crackdown.

At the time of demoting the PNP, Duterte described the force as being "corrupt to the core".

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