Duterte tags PDEA as 'sole agency' for all anti-drugs ops

Duterte tags PDEA as 'sole agency' for all anti-drugs ops

Duterte tags PDEA as 'sole agency' for all anti-drugs ops

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) was ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte to be the "sole agency" which will be in-charged of all anti-drug operations of the administration.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte fumed on Thursday over what he called "interference" by Western countries particularly in his administration's war on drugs, threatening to expel diplomats of European Union countries "within 24 hours".

Dela Rosa said he's frustrated that the PNP can't sustain the gains it has achieved in the fight against illegal drugs but stressed he doesn't harbor ill feelings toward Duterte.

He said that dishonest and corrupt police officers had taken their toll on the credibility of the PNP in conducting anti-drug operations.

"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 President added.

In a memorandum he signed October 10 (Tuesday) but made public Wednesday, Duterte ordered all concerned government agencies, including the PNP to immediately transfer all case files on the drug campaign to PDEA.

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This will also be the second time that President Duterte ordered the PNP to stop all anti-drug operations nationwide.

On February 27, the President allowed the PNP a limited participation in the anti-drug campaign through smaller task forces.

The Palace on Thursday claimed success because the street distribution of illegal drugs has already been degraded. "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.

Duterte's drug war has sparked outrage locally and internationally following the deaths of thousands of suspected drug offenders, including some minors, since he assumed office in 2016.

The PNP Drug Enforcement Group that Dela Rosa created will continue to function, but only as an intelligence gathering group.

Some senators on Thursday said they would still scrutinize the crackdown, regardless of who leads it.

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"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.

"If there is good intelligence information, they will pass them to PDEA", he said.

According to Hontiveros, the government should implement a "rules-based and modern drug enforcement agency" in fighting the drug problem in the country. "Just because there is a changing of the guard in the government's anti-drug campaign doesn't mean that we've also had a change of heart in our pursuit of truth, justice and accountability". The authorities must bring the campaign to the big-time drug lords instead of simply targeting the poor.

On Thursday, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said it is willing to drop a program that enables the anonymous reporting of alleged drug dependents and criminals.

She also warned that abuses would not go away with the PDEA leading the campaign.

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