PNP, NBI welcome PDEA lead in drug war

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has demoted the country's police from leading his drugs war, amid growing criticism of the bloody crackdown.

PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos said Thursday that the implementation of Project Double Barrel and Oplan Tokhang are terminated and all police drug enforcement units (DEU) are dissolved.

The President instructed the PNP, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and other agencies involved in drug war to just relay information related to the anti-drug campaign to PDEA.

Dela Rosa earlier said that without the task of ridding the country of illegal drugs, the PNP will now focus on internal cleansing and crack down on riding in tandem groups.

Police waged an all-out war against illegal drugs upon Duterte's orders. "We'll just look for other things to work on, just not drugs for now", Dela Rosa said in Filipino during a press briefing.

That suspension came after a South Korean businessman was kidnapped and killed by anti-drug police.

Police say they have killed over 3,850 people in anti-drugs operations since Duterte took office a year ago. Internal cleansing refers to operations to apprehend corrupt police officers in the PNP's ranks.

In a memorandum dated October 10, Duterte directed the four agencies among others "to leave the PDEA, as a sole agency to conduct all campaigns and operations against all those who are involved in or connected with illegal drugs".

The drug war was criticized by the administration and opposition lawmakers, the United Nations, and local and global human rights groups for alleged extrajudicial killings supposedly committed by police officers.

Duterte's drug war has sparked outrage locally and internationally following the deaths of thousands of suspected drug offenders, including some minors, since he assumed office in 2016.

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