Malacañang: PNP returns to war on drugs, backstopping PDEA

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

However Duterte also repeatedly said he believed the anti-drug agency, with only about 2,000 officers, would not be able to effectively prosecute the crackdown.

She added: "We are hopeful that [the PNP] will follow the lead of the [Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency], that previous operations in the past months have resulted to more apprehensions rather than alleged cases of extrajudicial killings, and more on big-time suspects rather than small-time suspects".

But his spokesman said on Tuesday that he was reinstating them because drug crimes had risen in their absence.

Duterte signed on October 10 a memorandum stripping the PNP of its lead role in the anti-narcotics campaign after some of its personnel were implicated in the killing of suspected drug offenders.

She noted that the PDEA has the expertise and the mandate to implement Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

"Their visit to the PDEA National Headquarters in Quezon City served as an avenue to showcase PDEA's accomplishments, operational capabilities and facilities for them to have a better understanding of our organization and the current drug trends affecting the national drug situation in the country", PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said.

Roque said the PNP's role in the drug war resumed but clarified that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) remains the lead agency.

He, however, ordered the PNP in March to support the PDEA in its fight against illegal drugs.

On cops using body cameras, De Guia said this is a "welcome development" since it will "allow openness and transparency in police operations".

READ: Memorandum Order 17 signed by Duterte, directing PNP to provide "active support" to Pdea in fighting illegal drugs.

Duterte, who assumed the presidency in June past year, waged a brutal war against drug syndicates.

According to the latest government statistics, 3,967 "drug personalities" died in anti-drug operations between July 2016 and 25 October 2017.

He said the president's restoration of the police in the drugs war may have also been emboldened by the unwillingness of either US President Donald Trump or fellow Asean leaders to publicly challenge the drug war slaughter during the Asean 2017 Summit, which the Philippines hosted in November.

He added: "Those failures highlight the need for United Nations action to investigate these killings, and end the murderous police operations on urban poor communities".

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