THE drug situation may worsen if the conduct of the bloody anti-drug operations will not be returned to the Philippine National Police, Malacañang said Thursday.
“What he [President Rodrigo Duterte] said was, ‘to prevent the problem from worsening’ … the drug problem,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque told reporters.
“I think we need to accept what the President has said. He does not want the problem to worsen and that is why… The thing is, he used ‘may.’ Effectively, effectively, he has manifested already a decision to return it to the PNP.”
Roque made his statement even as an official said the Philippine National Police was prepared to return to conduct Duterte’s war on drugs.
“We will follow the directive of the President, Chief Executive, and Commander-in-Chief,” PNP spokesman Dionardo Carlos said in a text message.
“We are ready,” he said in another text message.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency on Thursday said it welcomed the decision Duterte’s decision to bring the Philippine National Police back to again conduct the war on drugs.
“It has been the desire of PDEA that the PNP will return in the fight against illegal drugs,” director general Aaron Aquino said.
“PDEA has repeatedly admitted that it is undermanned, underbudgetted and underequipped, hence the need for other law enforcement agencies, particularly the PNP.”
But Duterte’s order to return the anti-drugs war operations to the police is a sign of a “murderous drug war”, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.
“Brace for more bloodshed. That’s the key takeaway from a speech Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made today in which he warned that, “Whether I like it or not, I have to return that [anti-drugs operation] power to the police,” said Phelim Kine, deputy director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch.
Roque said because the President returned it to the police, Duterte “must not be satisfied.”
“He wants more,” he said.
On Wednesday, Duterte said he would return the conduct of the bloody anti-drug operations to the Philippine National Police.
This, however, without doing any major reforms to the institution he once called “corrupt to the core.”
By returning the drug war back to the PNP, Roque said, the President did acknowledge that the PNP “is not a perfect organization.”
“He has said that he will clean up the ranks of the PNP. He has said that he will prosecute policemen who may be guilty of murder as in the case of Kian,” he said, referring to the 19-year- old brutally killed by Caloocan cops under the guise of anti-drug operations.
“But he has also said that, by and large, not everyone in the PNP is corrupt. And therefore, he still believes in the institution.”
Duterte had earlier pulled out the PNP and assigned the PDEA instead to take over the campaign due to mounting public criticism over the thousands killed in his bloody drug war, particularly in several cases involving teenagers allegedly at the hands of the Caloocan City police.
Duterte in January made a similar move, apparently sidelining the PNP, describing the police force then as “corrupt to the core” and giving PDEA the lead role in the drug war. With PNA