Bato: PNP now hands off on drug war

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MANILA- The Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte's order to let the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) lead his anti-narcotics campaign. In the "Anti-Illegal Drugs Campaign Plan: Double Barrel", Project Tokhang and Project High-Value Target was launched when Duterte took office on July 1, 2016.

The PNP chief, however, admitted that he feels regret over the "gains" that the police has achieved in the drug war for the past year.

The police relaunched the "less bloody" anti-illegal drugs campaign on March 6. "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.

PDEA chief Aaron Aquino said they will ask the help of the PNP in their operations but assured that they will be the lead operating unit.

The PNP's Drug Enforcement Group will now be limited to intelligence production and monitoring.

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

It was suspended in January amid controversy over rogue cops' involvement in the kidnap-slay of a South Korean businessman.

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He ordered the PNP, which he described as "corrupt to the core", to conduct internal cleansing and remove erring personnel from the service.

Earlier in the day, there appeared to have been a miscommunication between Dela Rosa and PNP spokesperson Dionardo Carlos.

The letter says over 13,000 people have been killed in what they call "Duterte's war on people who use drugs".

"What happened is the street distribution of networks of drugs lords already degraded so we now target higher echelons of the syndicates, as well as their protectors in government", he added.

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 past year. "They must be encouraged to do their share", Dela Rosa said.

"The vacuum the PNP will leave in the drug war will serve as a challenge to the community, local government units, the stakeholders".

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