Slowdown feared in Philippine drug war
Agency’s chief says he has only a fraction of the personnel and budget of police
The head of the Philippines’ anti-narcotics agency yesterday warned of a reduced intensity in the country’s war on drugs after a removal of police from the campaign, which he hoped would only be temporary as his unit lacked manpower.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Peda) chief Aaron Aquino said he had only a fraction of the personnel and budget of police, and hoped President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to make his agency responsible for all operations would not be lasting.
“I know the public has high expectations but I am asking the public for understanding because of our limitations,” he said in a radio interview.
“I hope this is just a temporary arrangement, we need the police.” Amid unprecedented scrutiny of police conduct, the mercurial Duterte issued a memorandum on Tuesday ordering police Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte incorrectly based his threat to expel European ambassadors within 24 hours on news reports, and there are no plans to kick them out, his spokesman Ernesto Abella said yesterday. Duterte threatened in a fiery speech on Thursday to quickly send European envoys home as he accused their governments, without citing evidence, of plotting to have Manila “excluded” from the United Nations. to withdraw. The authorities said the shift in strategy was to go after big drug syndicates. National police chief Ronald dela Rosa yesterday said police could now focus efforts on catching mysterious gunmen who were assassinating drug users, to disprove allegations by human rights groups that police were behind such killings. Police have killed 3,900 people in their anti-drugs operations over the past 15 months.