Duterte orders PNP back to drug war

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A police officer secures the crime scene as residents look on at the dead body of Aldrin Castillo, an alleged drug user killed by unidentified assailants, in Manila on October 3, 2017. / AFP

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered the return of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to the drug campaign, but with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) still as the lead implementor.

“This is to announce that the President approved a memorandum order directing the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies including the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Bureau of Customs (BoC), Philippine Postal Corp. (PHLPost), to resume providing active support to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr., said in a statement on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Last October, Mr. Duterte signed a memorandum ordering the PDEA to be the sole agency to conduct anti-illegal drug operations, with the PNP “at all times maintain(ing) police visibility, as a deterrent to illegal drug activities….”

“The President recognizes the significant strides PDEA has made in the government’s anti-illegal campaign, but it has been seriously hampered in performing its huge mandate by lack of resources, specifically agents and operatives who can penetrate drug-infected areas down to the municipal and barangay levels,” Mr. Roque said.

Mr. Roque also said the order on the PNP’s return is in response to reports of a notable resurgence in illegal drug activities and crimes.

However, he also clarified that PDEA is still the lead agency, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

“PDEA, as chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD), shall coordinate all government efforts in this regard,” Mr. Roque said.

“Now, this supersedes the earlier memorandum that designated PDEA as the sole agency that will deal with the anti-illegal drug operations,” he added.

Mr. Roque also clarified that the PNP must coordinate first with the PDEA when conducting drug-related operations. — Rosemarie A. Zamora