PNP to resume 'Oplan Tokhang,' 'Oplan Double Barrel' anti-drug ops

Faith Castro
December 7, 2017

On October 12, 2017, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte reduced the police's role in drug-related operations in favor of the Drug Enforcement Agency.

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Commission on Human Rights Spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said on Wednesday that she hopes the PNP follows PDEA's lead, noting that there were fewer reported deaths when PDEA was at the helm of the drug war.

"Since the signing of the record of discussion, capability enhancement trainings involving counter-narcotic operations, drug enforcement conferences and seminars, and bilateral meetings between the two organizations were successfully carried out", Aquino added.

Duterte admitted that the 2,000-strong PDEA does not have enough resources and manpower to eliminate the drug problem across the archipelagic nation of mostly Roman Catholics.

After a growing sentiment of opposition pushback against Duterte's anti-drug campaign and facing accusations of police abuse, the president chose to shift his policy and made the announcement on 12 October that the PDEA would be taking the reins from the PNP.

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"There has been a notable resurgence in illegal drug activities and crimes since the PNP and other law enforcement agencies were directed to leave to the PDEA the conduct of all anti-illegal campaigns and operations", Roque said. "It has been the desire of the PDEA that PNP will return in the fight against illegal drugs", PDEA Director Aaron Aquino said. There has been a resurgence in illegal drugs and crimes since the police left the campaign, according to a spokesperson.

HRW said the police's return to drug-clearing operations as "wholly unexpected".

He said Duterte's memorandum order was "in response to a clamour from the public to restore to the PNP and other law enforcement agencies the responsibility of providing active support to the PDEA".

Duterte, 72, was elected a year ago on a promise to eradicate drugs from society by launching an unprecedented campaign in which up to 100,000 people would die.

Human rights groups, however, estimate the drug war death toll at more than 10,000, a figure the government says is overblown. The Philippines has a population of 101 million as of the 2015 survey. After a month, the President again tapped the PNP, claiming the drug problems continued. "Those responsible, including those who ordered the killings, must be brought to justice". "That is the long and short of it", Duterte said in his speech.

The October suspension was the second time Duterte had hauled police off the drug war. "The country's judiciary and police have proven themselves both unwilling and unable to hold the killers in the "war on drugs" to account", James Gomez, Amnesty International's Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a news release.

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