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PDEA vows 'less bloody' war on drugs

PDEA vows 'less bloody' war on drugs

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

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".

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 a year ago.

"All information/data received by the NBI, PNP, AFP, Bureau of Customs, Philippine Postal Office, and all other agencies or any and all ad hoc anti-drug task forces shall forthwith be relayed, delivered, or brought to the attention of the PDEA for its appropriate action", Duterte said.

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.

Duterte first broached the idea to put PDEA in charge of the anti-drug campaign in January when he announced that he meant to create a "narcotics command" to weed out rogue policemen involved in the drug trade.

Duterte was angered by the EU's persistent criticisms of his drug war, especially the increasing number of drug-related killings.

PDEA chief Aaron Aquino made a statement in relation with PDEA's role, saying that the agency still needs the PNP in the anti-drug campaign and that the agency has only more than a thousand agents.

The police claimed that they only killed suspects who resisted arrest violently.

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Some senators on Thursday said they would still scrutinize the crackdown, regardless of who leads it. "The fight will be relentless, and it will be sustained", Carreon said in an interview.

On March 6, the PNP officially relaunched its campaign against drugs dubbed Oplan Double Barrel Alpha Reloaded.

Last January, Duterte detached the PNP from the war on drugs following the death of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo allegedly in the hands of the policemen, inside the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Dela Rosa, however, said the PNP Drug Enforcement Group will still function as the PNP's anti-illegal drugs arm but only to gather intelligence information regarding illegal 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.

"If we get good intelligence, we will pass it on to PDEA", Dela Rosa said.

Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) chair Jose Manuel Diokno said the war on drugs authorizes the police to kill drug suspects in the guise "neutralizing" or "negating" them.

According to Hontiveros, the government should implement a "rules-based and modern drug enforcement agency" in fighting the drug problem in the country.

Instead of a mere changing of the guard in the government's anti-drug campaign, what is needed is for Oplan Tokhang to be stopped and scrapped, she said.