Slow­down feared in Philip­pine drug war

Agency’s chief says he has only a frac­tion of the per­son­nel and bud­get of po­lice

Gulf News - - ASIA -

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.

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