Philippine police kill 4 drug suspects as drugs war resumes

Cheryl Sanders
March 7, 2017

Under the new Oplan, only the chief of police of the station together with the barangay captain or official and a representative of the local parish will visit suspected drug personalities at their residences and try to convince them to surrender or undergo drug rehabilitation.

"Today we are going to relaunch the war on drugs, we've relaunched our project: Double Barrel Reloaded", Dela Rosa said at a speech at national police headquarters in Manila.

The PNP's reinstatement came just over a month after a furious Duterte pulled police back from his crackdown in the wake of the killing by rogue drugs squad police of a South Korean businessman.

But, Duterte recalled the police for the campaign because the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) lacked the manpower to stem what the PNP says are signs of drugs returning to the streets.

Philippine National Police chief Director-General Ronald Dela Rosa, however, announced Monday that the 170,000-strong police force was being redrafted to enforce the campaign after the police's brief absence sparked a resurgence in illegal drug trade in many communities.

Mr Dela Rosa gave no details about this task force, except to say that it would go after "high-value targets" rather than the petty drug dealers and addicts who have made up the bulk of the more than 6,500 killed since Mr Duterte took office in June a year ago and launched a brutal crackdown on the narcotics trade. "You can volunteer to join the war, with a burning desire to help in this campaign, to help this country".

In its annual human rights report, the US State Department last week took note of the killings and "cases of apparent government disregard for human rights and due process". The report also flagged concerns about Duterte's repeated assurance of police impunity. "This is your chance to have a new life", he said.

Mr Duterte's spokesman said in response that it was important not to link reports of abuses to the anti-drugs campaign, which was a "noble crusade".

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have suggested the killings by police could be warrant prosecution as crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

Arturo Lascanas, a retired Davao policeman, speaks at a news conference at the Senate headquarters, Manila, Philippines, February 20, 2017.

He said he changed testimony because he was tormented by what he had done and wanted the truth to "set me free".

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